Monday, 3 March 2014

Victory in Hobbycraft!

I was contacted by a worker on nights.   His holiday pay was always short.  The problem was the same for everyone else on nights....

This is because Hobbycraft were not taking shift allowance into account.  This meant that every time a holiday day was used,  the result was a lower pay packet. The way Hobbycraft were calculating holiday pay was unlawful. Holiday pay should reflect all elements of pay,  not just basic pay.

All the workers had tried really hard to resolve this informally. In view of this I advised them all to individually raise a formal grievance.

I was not expecting a difficult or contentious grievance meeting. But here is a taste of senior management-speak,  Hobbycraft style:

"If it is that we have to pay out this extra money,  we will have to claw it back from somewhere else ....perhaps by reducing shift pay or hourly rates.....what are your thoughts to this? "

The tone was calm,  and the meeting professional, but the night shift workers knew that they were being threatened. Each individual grievance was the same,  although sometimes the threats differed.

The night shift held firm,  and no worker withdrew the grievance. 

The result?  The night shift now get full and proper holiday pay.  A payment to each worker has been made in respect of back pay for previous underpayments.

There are some important lessons here:

* Sticking together works. The concept of strength in numbers is as timeless as it is effective.

* For many reasons,  employers get it wrong sometimes. Where this impacts on a group of workers, this means there is a problem that can only be solved by the group. In this common scenario,  Unions are the only answer.

* Hobbycraft too have just learned an important lesson.  They are now clear that members of the Unite Trade Union must receive correct holiday pay!

As a result of one group of workers joining Unite and asking for representation,  management have improved holiday pay calculations for all in the company.  This is a small-scale example, but it proves that it's still very true to say that the existance of Unions benefits all workers, not just those who are members.

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