Facts about the case




Tower Hamlets UNISON press release
[3 October 2005]

Council threatens to sack trade union steward seriously hurt at work

Union slams heartless employer who gives parking rep a final written warning after he is badly injured doing his job

Tower Hamlets Unison Parking shop steward and safety representative, Kevin Travers, loses appeal against an official Council Final Written Warning. This was served on him due to time off for recovering from being nearly killed by a motorist trying to evade a parking ticket. Council staff demonstrated their support for Kevin outside Parking HQ at Southern Grove, E2.

Kevin was off certificated sick for 3 months due to the very painful injuries he received. Now Management have given him a Final Written Warning under the new sickness procedure for being hurt for trying to do his job for the Borough. Council procedures mean that Kevin could be sacked if he has even one more day off.

Kevin has already been victimised over this incident when they deducted a day’s pay off him for rearranging an appointment with Occupational Health. Unison has made an employment tribunal application for trade union victimisation, which will be held in January. Further legal advice is also being sought.

Branch Health & Safety Officer, Adrian Grieves, says, “These Final Written Warnings for being hurt for doing your job are disgraceful. The message this sends to all of us who provide a front line service is that if you get injured at work, senior management will try to sack you.”

Assistant Branch Secretary, John Gray, calls for action “Councillors must step in and take charge and rescue the Council from the highly paid consultants and interim managers who are ruining our services. If you threaten and victimise staff in this way you are not going to encourage your staff to go out and provide front line services”.

Notes for Editors

1. Issued by John Gray, Assistant Branch Secretary

2. For further information on this press release please phone 0795 769 6299.


The Facts

• Kevin Travers, (age 30), has been employed as a Parking Attendant by Tower Hamlets Council for the past 5 years. He is also a very active and dedicated Unison trade union steward and safety representative who has often had to stand up for his members, especially over health & safety. Kevin lives locally in East London with his wife who is a secretary for a City bank.

• On June 16 2004 in Rugg Street E14 Kevin was badly injured at work by a motorist trying to evade a parking ticket. The driver drove off at speed as Kevin was putting a ticket on his vehicle. These types of incidents are called “drive aways”. In the past Police Officers and parking attendants have been killed in similar circumstances. Kevin received internal injuries and deep tissue damage. He was off sick until 8 September 2004. While off sick he had to rearrange his first appointment with the Council’s Occupational Health Section (OHS). In no way did this delay his return to work.

• Kevin has an excellent sick record for non-work related injuries and has never missed nor rearranged an OHS appointment beforehand. OHS has always been very supportive of Kevin. However Environment & Culture Human Resources docked him a whole day’s wage for this “failure” to attend his first appointment. There is a dispute about what reason Kevin gave for wanting to change the appointment. However, Kevin can prove through telephone records that his version is correct. Docking pay for missing a first appointment with OHS is unheard of in Tower Hamlets. It has never been done beforehand. There was nothing to indicate this might happen in the appointment letter and no consultation with trade union beforehand.

• The only reason that this was done was to penalise Kevin for standing up for members in the past and to try and stop him from defending members in the future. In particular Kevin has campaigned against lone working in dangerous areas. Unison has taken out an Employment Tribunal Application against Tower Hamlets Council on behalf of Kevin for unlawful victimisation due to his trade union activities. This hearing will be held at Stratford in January 2006.

• On July 28 2005 Kevin attended an internal meeting and was given an official “final written warning” over his sickness by Adrian Ash (a temporary consultant in charge of Parking who is rumoured to be paid £120K for a 6 month contract). This warning will last 18 months and means that he could be sacked if he had one more day’s sickness even if he was assaulted at work. This was despite the fact that Management recognised that nearly all his sickness was work related.

• On Friday 30 September 2005 there was an internal appeal against the final written warning. Management refused to reconsider and now tried to argue that the final written warning had nothing to do with his sickness due to industrial injuries, but was due to the fact that he had had 14 days’ sickness since he recovered from his injuries. Much of this sickness was in fact work related. In any case no one has ever been given a final written warning for 14 days’ sickness in Tower Hamlets Council. Kevin is clearly being victimised again.

• There was a lobby of Council staff outside the Parking HQ at Southern Grove, E3, on Friday, 30 September. Unison believes that Kevin is being victimised due to his trade union activities. A formal grievance will be lodged and legal advice sought about making another Employment Tribunal Application for trade union victimisation. An emergency motion will also be debated on Thursday, 6 October, at the Unison branch committee which will call for a ballot on industrial action if Kevin is attacked any further.

Tower Hamlets Unison, 41/47 Bow Road, London, E3 2BS.