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UNION TAKES PRIVATE CONTRACTOR AND CHESHIRE CC TO EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL OVER SACKINGS

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Unison today lodged unfair dismissal applications with the employment tribunal against private contractors Service ...
Unison today lodged unfair dismissal applications with the employment tribunal against private contractors Service Group International (SGI) and Cheshire CC over the dismissal of 69 architectural staff.

Unison is seeking over£1.5m in compensation for unfair dismissal and failure to pay redundancy pay over Cheshire CC's decision to sack SGI, leaving the council's planning staff - architects, surveyors, engineers, administrative, technical and clerical workers - out in the cold.

SGI ran the council's privatised planning department. The council is claiming that the sacked workers are not covered by TUPE while SGI claims they are.

Last week, SGI was purchased by defence contractors Babcock International Group PLC (Babcock). Senior SGI directors will pocket huge payoffs from the takeover.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis fired a broadside against SGI and Cheshire CC at Unison's national conference at Bournemouth yesterday:

'These highly qualified and loyal staff have been left with the worst of both worlds - no jobs to transfer to and no redundancy payments to support them.

'Eight years ago when this service was first privatised, the staff were promised a glittering future. The Conservative-controlled council told the staff that this 'partnership with the private sector' was the best way to safeguard their jobs.

'The private sector didn't make things better - they made things worse. 26 staff had already been made redundant and now the council has dumped the service.'

Unison has lodged applications against SGI and has also lodged TUPE claims against the county council on behalf of 47 Unison members.

Unison said today that despite the change of ownership, the union would continue to pursue the redundancy claims.

Mr Prentis added:

'According to their own books, SGI's turnover in 2001 was£27.6m with an operating profit of£1.6m. Unison's claim against SGI adds up to around£1.5m, so it's no wonder they are trying to get out of paying up.'

Three Unison members caught up in the dispute have 85 years service at the council between them - and are facing no redundancy pay or TUPE.

Colin Barwick is an architect who has worked with the council for 32 years, and three with SGI.

David Davies is a senior quantity surveyor with 30 years service at council and three with SGI.

Tony Brown is a principal building surveyor who has worked for Cheshire CC

for 17 years, and three with SGI.

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