SSG Employment Tribunals: Resistance is Not Entirely Useless: Stand Up SPCK Up

Trouble BrewingMatt Wardman writes:

(A slight apology to usual readers for the weekend bulge in SPCK articles; a lot has happened in the last few days.)

This is an account from someone who reached an out of court settlement before a previous Employment Tribunal.

There will be a case hearing on the 18th September to determine procedure for the 31 Employment Tribunals which are being pursued against the Society of Saint Stephen the Great (SSG) by USDAW, the Shopworkers’ Union.

We have heard that some people are being contacted with offers of Out of Court Settlements. Now, clearly it is a matter for each individual to make their own decision, and I don’t want to try and change that in any way. This account is from someone who pursued a claim against SSG. I hope it is useful.

“As one who has played this game and danced this waltz with the Brewers I can say that:

  • They will make the payment in advance of the Tribunal if people agree to it.
  • It is the only guaranteed way of getting something out of him, as Employment Tribunal payments can be notoriously difficult to get even if awarded: there is no mechanism to make them pay up – just taking them to court again!
  • In the end I was advised that though at Tribunal I was likely to get more they weren’t sure when I would get it given their (then not as bad!) history of default, but that the choice was mine.
  • I decided to take what was on the table which was what was owed me (we had a settlement agreement they had defaulted on!) and all I had originally wanted, after all at that time I thought that it hurt them more to cough up than not.

They will try for a non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement. In my case I refused to entertain it unless he (J Mark Brewer) – would increase the settlement, as I did not consider what he was paying me entitled him to apply a gag as well; the amount was only that I was entitled to in my settlement package.

I had cited that I had lost all faith in the Brewers, and there was an element reported in my grievance of harassment, and a claim of physical intimidation by Philip Brewer, so it was a bit tricky for them to push for a Confidentiality Agreement.

He played the “Christian” card, but I stated categorically that I refused to be gagged in case I was needed to be a witness or provide supporting evidence for any one else who might find themselves in the same or similar situations.

The only thing I did agree to was to release all claims against Philip Brewer and the Society of Saint Stephen the Great arising from my time of employment with them, but I made them put in the same wording in regards to me! He quibbled initially, but then caved in.

So – yes – you can argue the toss and come out ahead – but it does take time to do that. To be honest you have to be willing to really play chicken with the them as he will push it and if you give in he’s got you!

At the end of the day you have to make the decision you think is best for you with the hope it won’t effect others down the line!”

My Thoughts

Mr Brewer is phoning around starting to offer people Out of Court settlements before the Employment Tribunal later this week.

Unnecessary confidentiality agreements can be used to keep you quiet in future when you probably don’t absolutely need to sign them for the best outcome now. The tactics used by SSG to control SPCK in this case have been classic “Divide and Rule”. Such tactics mean that people cannot draw strength from each other in the face of personal intimidation. An example is the insistence that email can only be used for “vertical” email communication with the bosses, not for “horizontal” communication with colleagues.

In my opinion, over aggressive Confidentiality Agreements fit the same mould.

Again, these are just my opinions – whether they are given any weight is for individuals to decide.

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13 responses to “SSG Employment Tribunals: Resistance is Not Entirely Useless: Stand Up SPCK Up

  1. Exeter shop open this week with ageny staff, sign in the window says “closing down” and everything is 40% off. The girls knew a little of what had gone on in the shop, but I suggested a bit of googling for them to entertain themselves… I am sure they will have found this blog by now!

  2. Exeter was, I believe, closed for a while. Phil B did not remember that he had closed it and ordered it to be re-opened with agency staff. Hope he remembers next time round that he has closed the shop. My best wishes to the girls who worked there.

  3. And presumably still trading under the SPCK signage, Neil? Have now added your photo to the photocall page — thanks, and apologies for the delay!

  4. Yes, still trading under the SPCK name (I will get a new pic for you). The shop was closed for well over a month, in fact before this week I last saw it open on a Friday at the end of July. The new agency staff told me that they had been told that the building was to be sold.

  5. Neil, I think we might need to watch this one. If I remember correctly, the Brewers have tried to sell this shop before. We’ll also need to record where the stock has gone. Wouldn’t it be just like the Brewers to forget that they tried to sell this shop just like they forgot that they had closed it!

  6. WHY Mr Brewer, did you ring me up to say you would pay me?
    WHY Mr Brewer, did you build me up , just to knock me down again?
    WHY MR Brewer, do you think its ok to treat people like this?
    WHY Mr Brewer, do you keep playing mind games?
    It has been a week since you have rang me, every day I have checked my bank account, even this morning, you have made me feel the way you did when you sacked me by E-mail on June 4th, you have made me feel the way you did on june 25th, when I had no wages, I just feel very low and sick again. By the way as I said to you I would drop the case if I had my wages, you didn’t keep to your side, so the case still stands this morning in court.

  7. Hopefully now the Brewers will realise that the Brits will not step down from being treated so badly, time for the Brewers to face what they have done, hopefully they will now act like men instead of crooks!!

  8. Pauline you are probably reading this blog, as all of us are, to hear what has happened today. Keep faith – hard as it is. Our day will come.

  9. Thanks asingleblog, it’s get up and fight again, at least were in it together. The pit sometimes seems very big .

  10. Thank you!
    To the Usdaw team who have done so much for the ex-Booksellers……..and, thank you, for all the staff, past and present, who are, and continue to be, such a support to each other

  11. a concerned party

    Please forward a message to Pauline Edwards. Could not find an email access for her from all the comments on this site.
    Do not know all details from past discussions stated on this site, but regarding monies to be sent to Ms. Edwards last week. The reality of that specific deposit is that it was not forth-coming due to Hurricane Ike, which hit Houston, Texas on Friday 12Sept’08. The 130 mph winds, rain and flooding knocked out over 4,000,000 homes & businesses leaving them without power, water and other services for many days. Some of the services have been restored, but as of today, power still has not been restored to over 2.5 million people; one of which is the entity that would make the deposit into Ms. Edwards account.
    Finally today, after finding power miles outside of Houston to do internet connections, including Ms. Edward’s deposit through Natwest’s (the funding bank’s) commercial online banking system……. Natwest is now doing some type of maintenance until further notice. Therefore, please advise Ms. Edwards that her deposit will be done as soon as Natwest allows access to their commercial systems.
    Again, this explanation is strictly to inform Ms. Edwards of the disposition of her deposit and is not to justify or requires any further discussion regarding the past problems Ms. Edward’s has encountered.

  12. Pingback: Brewer on the Brink: Bad Faith Special « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  13. Pingback: J Mark Brewer, I salute you again - but still briefly « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

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