Our thanks to Valiant For Truth for bringing to our attention that in The Journal Newspaper yesterday there was an article of great import to those who frequent this site,
Durham Cathedral Bookshop Staff Launch Legal Fight
This in many ways marks the official start of Durham Staff in their fight for Justice against the Brewer Brothers and their tactics of playing fast and loose with employment law and the rights of workers to be treated fairly and dismissed in a right way.
However Durham Cathedral itself via their trading arm are also in the dock as it were, again something that may not come as any great surprise to readers of this blog who have at times been dismayed, upset and hurt by some of the Cathedrals inactions and actions throughout the saga.
The article begins by saying:
CATHEDRAL bosses could become embroiled in a complex legal fight after bookshop staff launched tribunal proceedings.
Six workers at Durham Cathedral’s bookshop are seeking compensation after their employment was allegedly terminated when the shop unexpectedly closed on January 22 this year.
But confusion has arisen over who is potentially liable for any payouts and proceedings have been listed against several different companies, including the cathedral’s trading arm, Durham Cathedral Trading Ltd.
The article then goes on to say:
Miss Jeram, representing the Trust, (inserted clarification for blog readers – that’s SSGCT) said: “There are a number of uncertainties. There has been a great deal of confusion right from the beginning over their employer.
“The only issues can be who the employer was immediately prior to the closing of the bookshop and who the employer was at any time after that, in the period between January 22 and March 1.
“We’ve got to consider whether the claims should be struck out against the first respondent. At some point after June 2007 and before July 2008 it is my understanding that the Brewers attempted to wind up SSG LLC in Houston. After that time their employer could not have been SSG so it would have become the Durham Cathedral Shop Management Company.”
Claims against employers involve redundancy pay, unfair dismissal, breach of contract and unpaid work.
Sara Brody, representing the staff on behalf of shop workers union Usdaw at the hearing, argued the Trust should remain on the list of potential employers.
She said: “The claimants believe the Trust was their employer throughout, so their primary claim is against the Trust.”
Last year Durham cathedral bosses served SSG notice to vacate the shop, the last in the UK to be involved with the Trust, by May of this year.
Again these issues as raised are nothing new to anyone aquainted with this situation, previous tribunal actions and this blog.
So again we would ask that anyone who has any information, paperwork or correspondence of any sort that could help USDAW and the Durham staff to clear up the issue of employers please do get in touch with them directly. Anything that demonstrates who people believed they were doing business with or indeed were doing business with during the time frames mentioned can all help in proving who the employers were and give credence to the staffs perception of employer, so please do get in touch with USDAW and offer your help to them in making sure justice is again done.
As always our thoughts are with those involved in this action and we hope for a swift and just outcome for the Staff at Durham.
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It is worth noting that the Cathedral’s Trading company is not the same thing as the “Durham Cathedral Shop Management Company” which was set up and run by the Brewers.
I have passed on e-mail from Peter Gotham to USDAW.
Hopefully the Chapter of Durham have flocked into the shop to re-assure staff that they are on-side with their Tribunal Claim.
I’m sure that anyone who can help will. A dreadful situation for the Durham staff.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Aye Furious – it is worth noting. The Trading Company was set up in 2007 to start trading in 2010. That is why the Brewers were left in place.
Report in “Church Times” 23 July 2010, unfortunately on the website only available to subscribers.
Wait until the 30th and search using the archive – it may then be free.
im not sure if this has been mentionded yet
as i dont often check this blog as much as i used to
That was always going to happen. The Diocese of Bradford gifted a Church to the Brewers in good faith.
Technically, the Church Commissioners sell redundant churches but always consult the Diocesan Bishop when offers have been made. The rule is wherever possible for the church to be sold to a Christian body. In Bradford the only Christian buyers were SSGCT, and at a time when only booksellers were becoming aware of the problems of SSGCT. Fortunately, SSGCT went after a redundant church in Durham diocese at a later date when their colours were more evident and the Bishop of Durham said no to any sale. Has anyone heard of what has happened to the church in Poole?
Having done a look on Google and as of September last year the Church was calling itself “St Stephen the Great Orthodox Christian Church” and the minister still seems to be Ioan Fodor but there is otherwise nothing new.
It still appears on the Embassy of Romania site as a Romanian Parish (that is under the authority of the Romanian Orthodox Church) under the title Romanian Orthodox Parish of St Stephen the Great. Father Fodor’s email is no longer an SPCK one but a mitropolita.eu one along with the other Romanian Orthodox Churches in the UK. So this church appears to now be an official part of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Why do I keep looking back at what was said above and keep getting the sinking feeling that not only are the Brewers going to get off the hook, but that the Durham staff are going to be the ONLY former SPCK Bookshops staff not to get proper compensation for what has happened to them?
VfT the Brewers were always going to get off the hook. Remember there was a cut-off date for claims against SSGCT – advertised on this blog and elsewhere.
I guess I’m trying to say that once the Durham staff were aware of the cut-off date they should have contacted Peter Gotham.
Maybe Furious knows the answer to that?
Asingleblog, that cut off date was worrying not only for staff, but also suppliers as it went up to the summer of 2007, so any non payments after that were not covered because the Interim Managers only had a remit from the Charity Commission to cover SSGCT, a charity, not the “companies” set up later by the Brewers. It’s a pity that Durham Cathedral, as a charity, couldn’t have worked with the Charity Commission to get unpaid rent etc, but, I suppose, life’s not that easy.
I just wanted to say that the Durham staff are not forgotten and are still in my thoughts and prayers
In case anyone is wondering about no news that is because there isn’t any at present – no news of a Tribunal date or anything else.
Silence doesn’t mean that nothing is happening..,
There are many, from all over the country, watching and waiting for this outcome.
Our prayers and thoughts are with all the Durham staff throughout this awful time.