Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/351/5809
The Socialist 12 June 2004 |
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Whipps Cross Hospital
How We Won Our Tribunal Case
KOLA SHOKUNBI, UNISON shop steward at Whipps Cross hospital in east London
and Socialist Party member, has won his appeal against unfair dismissal.
Kola represents domestic and catering staff working for a privatised
company at the hospital.
LEN HOCKEY, from UNISON's Waltham Forest Health branch,
explains how this important victory was achieved.
"We did a lot of lobbying, including UNISON's general
secretary, so everybody in the union leadership would understand how important
Kola's case was. Now we need to get the national union to call for Kola's
After we got a successful result in last year's pay
dispute, ISS Mediclean's contract ran out. In October 2003 the new contract
was awarded to Initial Hospital Services, whose parent company is Rentokil.
When they took over the contract there was a change in
management's behaviour. They were prepared to suspend workers at the drop of a
hat. It was clear to the unions that they wanted to confront us. We felt that
they'd had their instructions from the hospital trust.
Kola was suspended this March and dismissed in April. They
alleged he'd shouted at a manager. They knew he'd had a prominent role in
recruiting to the union from the domestic side, which historically was always
poorly organised. He was unpopular with management but popular with his
members and workers at the hospital.
On the day of the tribunal we waited for the result from
12.30 until 5.10, pacing up and down in the room. But the longer it went on
the more encouraged we became. When we heard the result, it was all we could
do to stay in our seats without doing cartwheels. Kola was over the moon and
so was the UNISON regional officer.
The tribunal said that the management decision to sack
Kola "went beyond the range of reasonable responses" from the employer. There
are now 28 days for representations but it is a good impetus to get Kola
The tribunal decision comes ahead of UNISON's national
conference, which I understand will profile our success in recruiting migrant
workers during our pay dispute - how we won the union's organising and
The unions have been slow in going into the private
sector. But if you've got a bit of conviction and belief you can enthuse
people and win a core of workers to the banner of trade unionism. It takes a
lot of hard work, I'd say it takes a million conversations, but the rewards