Matt Wardman writes:
[Update 12/5/2009: I have spoken to USDAW and can clarify the following two points:
1 – The Out of Court Offer that has been made is a comprehensive offer of settlement for all matters including unpaid wages and all other matters in dispute.
2 – The Employment Tribunal hearing is formally “suspended” not “cancelled”. This preserves the option of continuing the case should the settlement offer not prove acceptable to all staff involved.
USDAW are now starting a process of consultation with all 32 people in the Employment Tribunal action; the hearing this week only included a small number of test cases.]
Breaking news is that the Employment Tribunal relating to staff of the former SPCK Bookshop Chain has been cancelled, as the Interim Manager has offered an Out of Court settlement, which is likely to be accepted.
I am told that the settlement is likely to be acceptable to USDAW, who have fought a year-long Industrial Tribunal claim against the multi-headed hydra of several organisations created by J Mark Brewer and his brother Philip on behalf of bullied, victimised, sacked, and unpaid staff.
This is a direct result of the imposition of an Interim Manager by the Charity Commission, which in turn is a direct result of complaints submitted by campaigning bloggers and others committed to scrutinising the exploitation and mismanagement of the chain by the Brewer Brothers, detailing information that had been discovered over a period of months by a wide network. These complaints happened as far back as last August (2008).
It is also a direct result of a campaign of accurate reporting, initially by Dave Walker, but then by dozens of blogs (including my Wardman Wire site) which have discovered information, documented abuses, exposed lies (and probable perjury), and kept on going regardless.
I am hopeful that the fact that the charity is now controlled by the Charity Commission rather than the modern version of Shyster, Flywheel, and Shyster means that payments will be made of unpaid wages going back the best part of two years. Based on information I have picked up over the last months, there are quite substantial sums involved, well into six figures.[Update for clarity: I mean total sums, and I quote claims for “unpaid wages going back over 2 years” to illustrate that significant numbers are involved. ]
Special acknowledgements are due to the legal team at USDAW for dealing with a monstrously complicated case, and the staff who kept on fighting. It is also a victory for blog campaigners and fellow travellers who knitted it all together, especially Dave mentioned above and my colleague at SPCK/SSG News and Information, Phil Groom, and Unity at Ministry of Truth.
Several important aspects of the SPCK case – compensation to one significant group of staff for lost wages, and possibly bullying and victimisation – will have been resolved if this goes through, so we can have a big party. And some ex-staff can take a well-deserved holiday when the money comes through.
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