TWENTY-SEVEN Unite members have won their tribunal claim over calculation of a redundancy payment at Rosyth Royal Dockyard in an Employment Tribunal decision.
The members were part of a successful joint legal claim involving forty-eight workers, and are now set to receive between £1,300 and £4,500 compensation. They worked at Rosyth Royal Dockyard and were made redundant in 2019.
The company’s redundancy policy provided for an additional enhancement to the redundancy pay at the rate of one day’s pay for every six months of service. A dispute arose over the calculation of the amount of a ‘day’s pay’.
Unite, Prospect and the GMB trade unions were successful in arguing through Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, who acted on their behalf, that the calculation should be based on the current daily hours, which would be 9.25 hours per day for a four-day week.
The Employment Tribunal found that Rosyth Royal Dockyard had failed to apply a ‘reasonable, notorious and uniform’ method for calculation, and were in breach of contract. The tribunal ordered compensation to members of the three unions totalling around £128,000.
Due to the contractual breaches, those who were made redundant and who weren’t part of the claim will also be eligible for payments dating back five years which could involve up to 400 people. Those workers on site under enhanced redundancy will also be eligible for the payment if made redundant in the future.
And it is estimated that total cost of the payments could cost the Ministry of Defence, which will underwrite the payments, up to £1.5 million.
Bob MacGregor, Unite industrial officer, said: ‘On behalf of the twenty-seven Unite members who brought forward this case we are delighted that we’ve achieved a positive resolution on behalf of our members. The facts are that Rosyth Dockyard treated workers unfairly and they will now have to pay the costs associated with this botched process.
‘The Employment Tribunal ruling affirms that those workers who have left the company and not part of the claim are also legally entitled to payments because it was a contractual breach. Up to 400 workers could benefit from the decision and it could ultimately cost £1.5m. The decision highlights the value of trade unions in supporting members and securing just outcomes, but also that employers will be held to account.’
Jane Rose, the Negotiations Officer for Prospect who took the case through the internal procedures, said: ‘I am delighted that, after a long campaign, we’ve achieved a positive resolution on behalf of our members ensuring they will receive their fair entitlement following redundancy.
‘The ruling underlines the value of trade unions in supporting members and securing just outcomes. It also provides clarity and protection on redundancy rights for Prospect members at Rosyth going forward.’
Alistair Riddoch, one of the Prospect members included in the claim, added: ‘This is fantastic news after such a long fight. I’d like to thank Prospect for pursuing the case on our behalf, a great example of the benefit of trade union membership.’
Prospect Legal Officer Jane Copley said: ‘We are pleased to have finally brought this long-disputed matter to a conclusion. The legal challenges in establishing what is a day’s pay have been complex and a ruling that supports the unions’ position is welcomed.’
Meanwhile a Merseyside shipbuilding and repair company has been fined after an employee was fatally injured when struck by a 31-foot steel post.
Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 March 2017, the 23-year-old employee and four other workers of Carmet Marine Limited had been adapting or ‘regulating’ the bogie, which is used to land and launch vessels on and off the company’s slipway by the River Mersey. One of the bogie’s steel side-posts weighing approximately 1,800kg fell and fatally struck the employee on the back of the head.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the steel side-post had only been secured to the crossbeam on the bogie by two slackened bolts, and was not supported by a crane or other means at the time of the incident.
Carmet Marine Limited failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and implement a safe system of work. In addition, the company did not provide the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety at work of its employees during the task of regulating the slipway.
Carmet Marine Limited, of Riverbank Road, Bromborough, Wirral, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lorna Sherlock said: ‘This incident was entirely preventable if the risk had been identified and suitable control measures put in place. Adequate training and supervision should have been in place too to ensure the regulating of the slipway was carried out safely by employees.’
- Construction company Peter Duffy Ltd was sentenced last week for safety breaches after multiple employees were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS).
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the company reported seven cases of HAVS between November 2016 and August 2018. All of the workers involved had been carrying out ground works involving vibrating tools. Many of them had been working in the industry for over 20 years.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that in 2016 the company contracted a new occupational health provider to replace their existing one. The diagnosis of the workers’ conditions resulted from these changes. Prior to the new company taking over the contract, there was no suitable health surveillance in place to identify HAVS.
Peter Duffy Ltd of Park View, Lofthouse, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £3,919 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Tilley said: ‘The company should have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify the level of vibration employees were exposed to throughout their working day and then put in place appropriate control measures.
‘Furthermore, the company should have put in place suitable health surveillance to identify HAVS in their workforce.’
- A furniture manufacturer based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire has been fined after a delivery driver sustained serious leg injuries when he was struck by a reversing lorry in the yard.
Derbyshire Magistrates Court heard how a visiting contractor driver had arrived at Belfield’s site in Furnace Road, Ilkeston, parked in position and pulled open the curtains of his lorry trailer for loading by a Belfield Furnishings’ employee. Once loaded, the visiting driver was tightening the trailer straps to secure the load when another contractor vehicle drove onto the site. As the HGV vehicle was reversing into position, it struck the man, knocking him to the floor and trapping his legs under the wheels. He sustained fractures to his right tibia and left foot, leaving him with reduced mobility, psychological damage and unable to work again.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that controls in the yard were inadequate. There was no segregation between vehicles and pedestrians to prevent this type of incident occurring.
Belfield Furnishings Limited of Furnace Road Ilkeston Derbyshire pleaded guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Section 3(1) . . . The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £18,618.28.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Lindsay Bentley said: ‘The visiting contractor could have easily been killed. This serious incident could have been avoided if basic safeguards had been in place to keep people and vehicles apart.’