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Posted on 27 November 2013 at 11:09 GMT

Hull: Victory against victimisation

Russ Bowering is the Wilmington One. He has been a Unison activist for many years and has been victimised for his trade union activities.

However, Russ has won a total victory against his employer, the waste disposal company FCC. FCC was originally a council run service.

Undoubtedly the key element behind Russ's victory was the threat of strike action by 25 fellow Unison members.

Another important element was the warning from Hull city council that it would implement its anti-blacklisting policy and refuse to use FCC in the future.

While Labour councils are implementing cuts up and down the country, it shows that pressure can be put on them to adopt anti-blacklisting and other policies which can help support threatened workers.

Russ's story shows how management can use the flimsiest of excuses to discipline workers who promote trade unionism.

Russ's job was to load wagons with waste. To do this he had to drive a front loading shovel into already stored waste. The shed where the waste was held was divided by a wall. One side had green waste and the other ordinary waste.

In two separate Health and Safety meetings in 2009 Russ had pointed out to management that the shed was not safe because the wall separating the waste was not properly secured.

This meant that as he drove his shovel into the waste, it put pressure on the separating wall. The inevitable happened last July and the separating wall panel collapsed.

After trying and failing to contact his supervisor by radio, who was off site, Russ took the decision to leave the area himself so that management could be informed as to what had happened. Leaving the area was the reason management used to try and discipline him and he has been off work since July.

A significant part of the victory was that not only was Russ reinstated, but he was reinstated on his original pre-TUPE terms and conditions. Management had insisted that if he was to return it would have to be on less favourable terms and conditions.

This victory should encourage other victims of blacklisting and victimisation that they can win if the trade unions take up the cudgel.

Another warning to the labour movement from Russ's experience is that firms running privatised council services will try to reduce pay, terms and conditions. That is why trade unions have to fight council privatisations.

Russ would like to publicly thank all trade unionists who sent messages of support. He is determined to help others who have suffered like him and spoke at the National Shop Stewards Network Yorkshire conference on 23 November.

See also:

Hull city unions force cuts climb-down

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