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Deductions from wages - struggling to get help from Unions - what next?


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APOLOGIES IF WRONG SECTION FEEL FREE TO MOVE

 

Hello,

 

I have a second job with a large pizza chain who have just hit the headlines for alleged issues over wage deductions.

 

A similar problem - though not to the same extent - is developing at my store.

 

I contacted the T&G Union which is bringing the case against the pizza company and to be honest, they didn't want to know.

 

Fair enough, I'm not a member, but I told them I was interested in joining if they could help my case, and my information may prove helpful.

 

The callhandler told me they had no members at that particular company, and all officers were busy for a long and unspecified time.

 

I am a member of USDAW, so I gave them a call, and the person dealing with my case has gone on holiday for two weeks.

 

The person covering for them is off.

 

I raised the issue with them two weeks ago and it seems no progress has been made.

 

I am the only union member at our store and have other people relying on me for an outcome or even just more information.

 

Apologies for sounding whiney but I feel like I'm banging my head off a wall.

 

I pay my union subs every month, but no-one is ever in to deal with my queries, promised call backs don't happen, when people do ring me they have no knowledge of why I've called, and when I ring for an update I'm rightly or wrongly made to feel like I'm the one causing the problem.

 

Who do you approach when you feel your union isn't being as helpful as they could?

 

I understand I'm not their only case, but lots of people, myself included, have heavy work loads.

 

Jane

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Guest weegirl

It is no excuse for not getting back to you, there is a clause in employment law that states if you continue working for an 'acceptable' length of time after raising this grevience, then you are seen to have accepted the issue, therefore you don't have a case.

 

A very unfair point of law, not everyone can just walk out of a job if they have a dispute, most people have to continue on until they find something else. There was a precedent set some years ago though where a woman raised a grevience with her union and was waiting for advice. She continued to work during this waiting period. As soon as she received the advice the issue was illegal, she then left immediately. All of this took a matter of weeks, but her case was not struck out as she was seen to have been following procedures and left as soon as she had definite advice.

 

Unions on the whole are pretty crap, they really are no match for an solicitor who deals solely with employment law. Get the union to confirm in writing that your point of contact is on holidays. You really need to push this, keep all correspondence in writing, recorded delivery and watch your time frame otherwise you won't have a case to start with.

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Guest weegirl

Some legal info that I gathered previously:

 

"Before resigning, an employee must establish that the employer has committed a fundamental breach of contract. A 'fundamental breach of contract' is a breach of an express or implied term or condition of the contract that 'goes to the root' of the contract, i.e. a serious breach - see below for examples. In law, an employee does not resign. Instead, when faced with a fundamental breach of contract by the employer, the employee has the choice of: (1) affirming the contract, i.e. taking no notice of the breach and thereby carrying on with the contract or (2) accepting the employer's breach by terminating the contract and seeking compensation/damages for any loss he or she has suffered.

 

Section 95(1)©, ERA 1996 is the statutory provision that states that an employee is entitled to terminate the contract of employment, with or without notice, in circumstances that s/he is entitled to terminate it without notice by reason of the employer's conduct - this is known as 'constructive dismissal.' Although the employee is said to 'resign,' it is the employer's conduct, that must amount to a fundamental breach of contract, that constitutes a repudiation of the contract and the employee accepts that repudiation by 'resigning.' The employee must clearly indicate that s/he is treating the contract as having been repudiated by the employer: Logabax Ltd v Titherley (1977) IRLR 97, EAT. If s/he fails to do so, by word or by conduct, s/he is not entitled to claim that s/he has been constructively dismissed: Holland v Glendale Industries Ltd (1998) ICR 493, EAT. An employee who is claiming constructive dismissal must 'resign' promptly: Hunt v British Railways Board (1979) IRLR 379, EAT. The exception to this rule is a 'last straw' resignation whereby an employee terminates the contract as a result of the latest incident in a series of incidences by the employer: Lewis v Motorworld Garages Ltd (1986) IRLR 465, CA."

 

In this case, the last straw wouldn't apply as the issue is over the wages deductions.

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thanks for this.

 

Luckily, as I said, this does relate to my second job, and I could easily leave and take up a position in a similar business.

 

But there are people within our store who work more or less full time, and I feel bad for them.

 

I'd suggest they join the union, but there doesn't seem much point!

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Guest weegirl

If they did take it on for tribunal, they would just pass it onto one of their own solicitors to deal with. I took a case a few years ago, and a friend of mine found herself in similar circumstances and took a case through a union, whereas I went to a solicitor privately. I have to say, in comparison, my case was dealt with a lot more efficiently and my solicitor had more knowledge on the subject. Because we had similar cases, I was able to tell her things her solicitor didn't know! I found her solicitor to be quite lazy, and unwilling to follow up on a lot of stuff. She had to do a lot of running around herself, which really is not the client's job, that's what they get paid for. You can ensure that you have insurance for that sort of thing, as I have said on other threads, some home buildings insurance will cover breaking of contracts, which includes employment contracts. Even though it is a second job, they still can be taken by you if they have acted illegally, you will still be at a loss if you have to leave this work. If the union does take it on it won't cost you anything and it may teach them a lesson.

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I was promised someone from the union who is covering the officer on holiday would call today.

 

I guess now at 3pm they aren't going to.

 

I'm gonna give them another call, once I've worked up the strength to face the deep sighs and bored tones which seem to mark any query they are presented with.

 

I have never come across such a ridiculous situation.

 

I come from a former coal-mining village in the north east and was brought up my granda to be a staunch unionist.

 

Poor fella would be spinning.

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I'm facing a pay dispute as well just now and I'm pretty much doing all the work myself. Although I've been working for over a year with the company and with knowledge that what they're doing is wrong and unfair I'm a student and disabled and it's almost impossible to find a job for me, as it is my LBA is printed and sitting on my desk i'm just waiting to get a new job (had several interviews) before it gets sent as I know that once it's at head office i'll be fired. I can't talk about it at work so I can't get any support for this, everyone who works with me is either a student or they rely soley on this job for money, they just can't afford to be fired.

 

I'm well read up on employment law and i'm doing more study into it in order to make sure my claim is completely right before I get myself in too deep. I think if the union isn't willing to help you could look into going down a similar route, the courts web site is really helpful and citizens advice can help you too.

Any posts submitted here on the Consumer Action Group under the user name GlasweJen may not necessarily be the view of the poster, CAG or indeed any normal person.

 

I've become addicted to green blobs (I have 2 now) so feel free to tip my scales if I ever make sense.;-)

 

 

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Guest weegirl

Tell them when you ring that you are recording the conversation - also quote the law that I have given you. The only way that I have found to deal with numpties like that is to scare the **** out of them, if you tell them you will hold them personally responsible for not getting them a rep in time if you cannot take a case because of a time lapse they may well sit up and take notice! They won't know whether you are serious or not, sounds to me like they have a lazy sod on the end of the phone.

 

I know what you mean about unions, it is really sad as the tribunal system is set up still to favour the employor. It is still far more difficult for an employee to take a case and win than it is for the employer to defend it and lose, not matter how much bleating they do. But for our government to admit otherwise would be to admit that there is a problem with the law, and that's not going to happen.

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Lodged a complaint via email with head office and five min later got a call from a union rep, who had a message to call me but no details of my query.

 

At all.

 

Explained it all again.

 

Asked me to email it through, which I am now doing.

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update - someone from the union has just contacted me to talk through my complaint and the original issue.

 

Slightly worried when they asked why I shouldn't pay my own business insurance?

 

Pointed out I take calls at work, but I don't expect to pay line rental for the phone.

 

Sometimes I feel like I'm going mad, slowly and alone.

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