Official Usdaw Press Release: Victory for workers sacked by email

Download Full Press Release (pdf, 224kb)

Download Full Press Release (pdf, 224kb)

Phil Groom writes:

Usdaw released the Press Release (html | pdf, 224kb) copied below today, Wednesday 19 August 2009. The Notes to Editors appended to the press release give a superb summary of the whole Brewer debacle to date, so be sure to click through to read that; and don’t miss this BBC report: Sacked bookshop staff win payout!

The story is, of course, far from over yet, with Philip W ‘Slippery Fingers’ Brewer apparently still in personal control of the Chichester and Durham shops. Reports emerging indicate that the Charity Commission are closing in, however…

Victory for workers sacked by email

32 sacked Christian bookshop workers have finally won a substantial payout with the help of shopworkers’ union Usdaw.

The workers were employed by the long-established SPCK chain of Christian bookshops until they were transferred to a charity called Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSG) in November 2006, controlled by two American brothers, Mark and Philip Brewer.

The Brewers tried to force the staff to sign new contracts which gave them longer hours, fewer holidays and poorer pension rights.

Between February and June 2008 the 32 workers were sacked by the Brewer brothers, with many getting the news by e-mail, breaking UK employment law.

Usdaw launched a legal fight to help the workers get justice and the money they were owed when they were sacked, lodging claims in the Employment Tribunal.

Heather Leather, one of the sacked workers, said:

“We were so pleased to have Usdaw behind us when all this happened. At the shop where I worked the staff had a total of more than 100 years’ service between us. We simply didn’t know what was happening when the Brewers started all this, and we never expected to be treated this way, when we had done nothing wrong. But Usdaw was behind us from the start and guided us round all the legal hurdles the Brewers tried to put in our way.”

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary, added:

“We are delighted that these long-serving and dedicated members have finally won the compensation they deserve. We believe they have been treated appallingly, with no regard for British law or for the loyalty of the staff.

“Usdaw’s Legal Department has worked hard to ensure that justice was achieved for these workers. Because the case was so complex, affecting people in shops across the country, they would never have been able to get such a great result without the backing of a union, and Usdaw is proud to have been able to help them.”

26 responses to “Official Usdaw Press Release: Victory for workers sacked by email

  1. If you’re reading this Phil Brewer, “The gemmes a booger”. That’s Glasgow slang. The game is up.

  2. Wow!

  3. JUSTICE at last.

  4. Thanks Usdaw, Phil , Dave And fellow bloggers!
    Some good news for a change!

    However, there are still some ” SSG “Booksellers out there who need our support.

    Thinking of you all tonight

  5. Thankyou Annie.

  6. Notice the comment from Mark Brewer on the BBC report. Still denying all knowledge of anything to do with this.

  7. thanks to everyone who helped to keep this in the public eye – you know who you are and what you did. You are amazing – all of you!

  8. Are you sure the Chichester shop is still trading? I walked past it on Sunday, admittedly outside its advertised opening hours (as of February 2008 – that Sunday trading innovation seems to have been abandoned!), and could see no sign of this building being anything other than an ancient church.

    • Gentle Wisdom, it’s good to know that you are popping into this blog. It’s what Chichester looks like and it doesn’t open on a Sunday.

  9. Pingback: clayboy » SPCK / SSG sacked staff compensated. At last.

  10. Valiant for Truth

    Thanks USDAW – who said Maggie squashed the Trade Unions?! Round One of the battle as there are lots more wrongs to be righted. Usual Mark Brewer denial to the BBC, but he always did live on a different planet – and that’s being polite! It would be appropriate somewhere down the line for some proper apologies from certain people to take place.

  11. Couldn’t agree more!

  12. This was my attempt at a shortish overall summary:

    Regular readers of the Wardman Wire will know that I’ve been involved with others in a campaign to place a spotlight on the mismanagement and asset-stripping of the chain of 25 bookshops which used to go under the name of SPCK, by the brothers J Mark and Philip Brewer. See the SPCK SSG News and Information blog for a more (very) detailed account.

    A community of campaigning bloggers, and a wider international network based mainly on Facebook and other social media sites, has had a role in this over a period of more than 2 years – gathering information, helping to expose a fraudulent bankruptcy attempt, keeping the Charity Commission on the case, and maintaining a spotlight on the case.

    But this still has a long way to run – notably because there are still many small businesses who were simply never paid, and because compensation payments still have to be made – though that can be expected now that the Brewer Brothers no longer control the charity. There are more complex aspects such as what happened to pension and national insurance contributions which the Brewer Brothers never passed to the correct recipients.

    And then there is the matter of bring Mark and Philip Brewer to some sort of justice, and making sure that those who need to learn the lessons from this debacle do just that. It is one more signifcant step forward, however.

    The two Facebook groups are We Support Dave Walker (who was “Cease and Desisted” after 18 months of objective reporting; his blog is here), and A group for all those people who mourn the tragic demise of SPCK Bookshops, which still have a combined membership of well over 500 activists and supporters.

    For today, I’m highlighting the huge credit due to the USDAW legal team and the ex-staff who kept on going for so long. This is the full USDAW Press Release. The “notes to editors” at the end have a good summary of the history of the aspects of this case dealt with by USDAW.

  13. Thanks Matt the fantastic campaigner. Where would we have been without you? VfT and Annie, I would like to echo your sentiments.

  14. This is great news.

  15. Phelim McIntyre

    Having read the BBC report I am pleased to see that Steve Jeenings and his widow are mentioned, though the term lost a staff member seems to suggest we misplaced him. Nothing in the Bookseller this week.

  16. To all my friends and former colleagues.
    I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you have got settlement of this case. Justice has been done. Full marks to USDAW. Lets pray that all those small and large suppliers also get something out of this.
    Don’t spend that money all at once.

  17. Phelim McIntyre

    Here is the report in the Church Times with a great photo of the car at Durham.

  18. The car was remaindered.

  19. >Thanks Matt the fantastic campaigner

    Lots more than me, of course, but thanks.

    I have a podcast with the USDAW legal dept (Christine Peacock) coming out next week which will give a view of the Employment Tribunal Action from the inside.

    It will be on my politalks feed here:


    and probably here.

  20. Phillip Weston Brewer has crossed the line.

  21. Thanks Matt!!
    Look forward to the Podcast!

  22. one day there is a story to be told,
    but not yet,

  23. Pingback: SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  24. Pingback: Podcast: The inside track on a complex Employment Tribunal – USDAW Legal Department | Politalks: Podcast and Newsletter

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