The Socialist 19 November 2008
‘We’re not taking these job cuts’
Sacked for being pregnant!
Every year 30,000 women lose their job as a result of becoming pregnant. Employers often give other reasons. The Socialist spoke to a south London worker, sacked as soon as she announced her pregnancy. Her story illustrates the reality facing women in the workplace in twenty-first century Britain.
"I'd been in the job for about six or seven months and I hadn't had any problems whatsoever up until then. That's what I can't understand. Almost as soon as I told them I was pregnant I was suspended and then sacked.
My job was waitressing. But when things changed they decided to call me in the office and tell me that I was bullying people. I don't believe that's true.
They came forward with statements but there were no names on it and I've since been told it wasn't proper evidence anyway. It just looked like people had written a brief note on a piece of paper. It didn't look legit or anything. I also heard that the managers were up in the office rewriting them so I couldn't recognise the handwriting, but I'm not 100% on that. I think the real reason is because I'm pregnant.
Recently we got a new manager. That's when things started to change. He seemed to want to bring the place up to a higher standard, which is fair enough. But then he suspended me. And then he suspended two other members of staff.
I went in on the Sunday to do my night shift. They suspended me without giving me a chance to put my side of things. I didn't think that was normal. I actually got really upset. I was getting really stressed out and I was up at the A&E because I was losing blood. I got really worried over it, and I still am because, obviously, being sacked is a mark against my name if I want a job in the future.
Then I got in contact with a trade unionist who is a Socialist Party member and he helped me through everything. He's helped me with my appeal. Obviously I'm hoping the appeal will go my way. We're still in the process now. I don't think it's fair what they've done. They could do it to anyone else so I'm doing it for myself and for others in the future.
They called me to the investigation. I had it explained that they can't do an investigation and a disciplinary in the same meeting - you have to have a separate meeting for that. But they called a recess for 15 minutes and then called me back and decided that they were terminating my contract.
I don't think it was done professionally or properly at all. I think they'd made their minds up from the moment they suspended me from the way they went about things - they weren't organised properly.
They didn't want to hear my side of the story. I got to tell it but I couldn't really defend myself because I didn't have the dates of when I was supposed to have been bullying this particular person. All I could say was that I'm not a bully. I've never bullied anyone.
They can't just sack you for being pregnant but they'll disguise it in another way. I think they don't want to pay for my maternity leave. It's not fair. A new manager comes in and decides he wants to get rid of me because I'm pregnant. So I think he decided to make something up so he could get rid of me.
I've talked to my colleagues and they're all really shocked about it. They cannot get over it. If I was bullying they would have said something to me. I get on great with everyone there. It's sort of like a second family.
I've got to wait and see what happens with the appeal. I would still like my job back. I loved working there. I've still got loads of friends there. I think it's the first job I was ever really happy in. I actually enjoyed going to work so I would like my job back, but at the same time they'd probably be looking for another reason to sack me."
In this issue
No Job Cuts
Post office closures
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis