Tag Archives: ENC

Employment Tribunals Notice Posted

In the matter of complaints of unfair dismissal, and redundancy payment, notice period

Direction of the President: In the matter of complaints of unfair dismissal, and redundancy payment, notice period

By Order of His Hon. Judge Meeran, President, details of a number of pending employment tribunals have been posted on the Employment Tribunals website. The notice, in MS Word format, is dated 20 June 2008 although I (Phil Groom writing) only stumbled across it myself this week; not sure when it was actually posted.

Google have helpfully translated it into HTML format so you don’t need Word to read it, or there’s a pdf version here: take your pick.

Interestingly the document lists the respondents as

  1. St Stephen the Great Limited Co
  2. St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust
  3. ENC Management Company

which perhaps suggests that if setting up the ENC Management Company was some sort of attempt by the Brewers to duck out of their employer’s responsibilities under their earlier SSG guises, then it’s an attempt that has failed. H H Judge Meeran, it seems, is not that easily outwitted, even by clever Texan lawyers…

The notice orders specifically that:

  1. The claims in the attached schedule, and any additional claims in England & Wales identified as raising the same or similar issues, be subject to an Order for combined proceedings under Rule 10 of Schedule 1 to the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004.
  2. And it is further Ordered that these claims be transferred to the Bury St Edmunds office of the London East region, for the Regional Employment Judge to give directions for the consideration and expeditious disposal of the claims.
  3. A copy of this Direction be sent to ACAS and to all known interested parties, and be published on the Tribunals Service website at http://www.tribunals.gov.uk.

So here it is, as directed, available to all interested parties. Here’s wishing the claimants every success!

Time to Boycott SSG?

Has the time come to boycott the SSG bookshops?

Thus far I have resisted an outright call for a boycott, simply because I have not wanted to risk damage to the jobs and livelihoods of those who, against the odds, have somehow managed to keep on working under the Brewers’ regime.

Back in December 2006 Dave Walker summed this up well when Joe, one of his respondents, suggested a boycott:

I think we should continue to support SPCK shops for the following reasons:

  • I think the good the shops and the books sold through them do outweighs the strange and dubious objectives of the owners.
  • I want to support the staff, some of whom I know.
  • I suspect that once this chain is gone it really is gone and I can’t see anything similar replacing it. At least if we continue to support SPCK there remains the chance that it will be taken over by someone we are able to support more wholeheartedly.

That was then, however; this is now. Reports indicate that neither staff nor suppliers are being paid: so where is the money entering those few shops that are still trading going?

Have we reached the point where any money paid to buy goods from these shops can no longer be regarded as supporting either the beleaguered staff or the shops’ suppliers but must rather be seen as simply propping up a thoroughly discredited and disreputable regime? Has the point finally come when so much damage has been done by the Brewers themselves that this call must now be made?

Calls to boycott have already been issued: Mark Tiddy posted his Boycott The SSG (SPCK) a couple of months ago (his post is dated 2006 due to a bug in his blogging software), and, more recently, this comment from Maggi Dawn echoes something of my own feelings:

While in the short term in might be harsh for those who have been offered “employment” by these new companies there is one very simple response that the Christian community can make to these events – resolve not to buy anything from these new shops and encourage others to boycott. We have plenty of alternatives run by people and companies of integrity, who for all their difficulties in a tricky market at least treat their staff with justice. The Church hierarchies can also make sure that no further deals are done with SSG about buildings etc – with luck they might just get the message and return to the US before they do more damage to the reputation of Orthodox Christianity.

The time, surely, has come to say:

Boycott the SSG/ENC Bookshops!

— Phil Groom

(Updated 3/7/2008 to correct the date of Mark Tiddy’s call for a boycott: see comments below)

SPCK/SSG News Archives

Save the SPCKDave Walker has compiled an index of news reports and correspondence about the SPCK/SSG saga in the Church Times blog, which helpfully supplements his own Save the SPCK section. To that I’d like to add the UKCBD SPCK/SSG News Section, this site’s reports and reflections and the various reports in the Bookseller: 
SPCK | SSG | St Stephen the Great. Should probably also add this rather long and meandering thread at Ship of Fools, “SPCK” bookshops.

Taken all together that’s a huge amount of information with considerable overlap, but it leaves no one with any excuse to say they didn’t know what was going on.

One of the things we (that is, Dave, Phelim and myself: not sure whether anyone else was in on the conversation) discussed briefly at the SPCK Booksellers Get-together back in May was the idea of setting up a dedicated SPCK/SSG blog. This would take some of the pressure off Dave, especially in July when he’s going to be busy blogging and cartooning Lambeth (brilliant cartoon in today’s Church Times, btw: had me in stitches. thanks, Dave!), and will help keep a continuous spotlight on the situation, which neither Dave nor I can necessarily do with our respective blogs.

I’m quite happy to set the blog up at WordPress, although anyone reading is equally capable of doing that: WordPress really does make blogging incredibly simple. But what I can’t do is run it single-handed: I think it needs a team of three or four people, possibly more.

So, do we have any volunteers from amongst our readership? You’ll need a WordPress ID: signing up for that will take you less time than it’s taken me to type this sentence. Then you’ll need to leave a comment using your WordPress sign up email address (this will not be made public) so that you can be set up as an author/contributor. SSG/ENC moles need not apply!!

Over to you, people…

Update 27/6/2008: Originally I said ‘let me know your WordPress ID’. What I actually need is your WordPress sign up email address: just use it as normal when leaving a comment. Apologies for any confusion/misunderstanding!

New Name for SSG?

SSG: Silly Stupid Games, perhaps? Apart from when you’re playing with people’s livelihoods and jobs, because then it’s not a game, is it?

It strikes me as particularly ironic that having started the day by promoting Mark Greene’s Christian Life & Work DVD this morning in my post about Small Group Resources, I now end it with a report on the latest shenanigans at SSG. Maybe someone could set themselves the task of producing a DVD on the topic of being a Christian employer? It could start with lessons in how not to fire your staff…

Yes, you’ve guessed it: another round, apparently, of firing-by-email. I have in front of me an email, apparently from Mr Phillip W Brewer, addressed to “Staff (in Chester)”. Dated June 1st it states:

Effectively immediately, all former SPCK Bookshops being operated by the SSG trading company are to be staffed by a new management company. Should you wish to continue your employment at the Chester bookshop, you may do so by applying for a position with the new company. The company which will operate the bookshops is ENC Management Company.

This is not a transfer of your employment under TUPE. Rather, this is notification to you by St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust that the trading company known as SSG (St Stephen the Great, a limited liability company) will no longer be operating the bookshop. 

I’m told that the staff have been in touch with their union and are being advised on how to proceed. Or not, as the case may be: who can say?

I invited the Booksellers Association (BA) — of which SSG and I both happen to be members — to comment, but have been told that there can be “no official or unofficial response from the BA, the ruling body of which has in this case specifically taken the established line that we do not comment on how members run their businesses.” That’s OK, then, I guess: I can abuse my employees as much as I like and no one’s going to hold me responsible. Where did I read that story about someone washing his hands? 

In the midst of the nightmares, some good news: Dave Walker’s Cartoon Church Blog is back online, albeit at a temporary location: http://cartoonchurch.wordpress.com/ — welcome back, Dave!

Please feel free to post your own suggestions on what SSG or the new initials ENC might really stand for…

Update 5th June 2008
Have just been informed that the Brewers have now advised staff that they can continue to work under their old contracts whilst SSG takes legal advice… watch this space…

Update 6th June 2008
Dave Walker has posted a copy of an email “sent to most if not all of the former SPCK shops by Mark Brewer” which states:

SSG (St Stephen the Great – limited liability company) has been terminated as the trading company to operate the bookshops formerly known as SPCK Bookshops.

From: SSG files for bankruptcy.