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19.06.2020 / News / Press releases /

Ministry of Justice contractor accused of “unlawful interference” in trade union recognition ballot

  • Ministry of Justice contractor OCS has been accused of unlawfully interfering in a trade union recognition ballot
  • United Voices of the World (UVW) has reported the contractor the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC)
  • The contractor attempted to move UVW reps to different worksites to exclude them from the ballot and skew the results in OCS’ favour
  • UVW is also considering a judicial review against the CAC, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and UK government

United Voices of the World (UVW) has reported Ministry of Justice (MoJ) contractor OCS to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). UVW has hard evidence that OCS has attempted to unlawfully interfere in an ongoing ballot for statutory trade union recognition. UVW represents cleaners and security guards at the MoJ headquarters at 102 Petty France. OCS has attempted to move UVW reps and members to different worksites with the allure of pay rises so as to tip the ballot in OCS’ favour. The CAC is currently considering the complaint and will issue an outcome imminently.

UVW also reported OCS to the CAC with regard to the OCS’ refusal to provide workers with face masks for “access meetings” designed to allow the workers and representatives of UVW and OCS to meet to discuss recognition. Such complaints are normally made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). However, this complaint was submitted to the CAC on the grounds that failing to provide face masks breached paragraph 18 of the CAC Code of Practice. This paragraph states, employers ‘should not dismiss [the union’s] proposals unless he considers the union’s requirements to be unreasonable in the circumstances’.

UVW also argued the refusal breached their duty under Sch.1 para 26 which requires employers to allow for “reasonable access” to the workplace. UVW argued this must take into account health and safety concerns. Shockingly and despite the workers repeated requests for face masks and the scientific consensus of their effectiveness in reducing transmissions levels of COVID-19 the CAC sided with OCS’ defence. UVW also reported OCS to the HSE on the grounds that its failure to provide the cleaners and security guards with face masks, which in the view of UVW had already contributed to the death of Emanuel Gomes and another worker suspected to have died from COVID-19, was a breach of statutory health and safety law. Shockingly HSE disagreed and defended OCS’ decision not to provide PPE.

Petros Elia, UVW Organiser said the following: “The rulings of the CAC and HSE are disgraceful and make a mockery of workers’ rights. We are strongly considering judicial reviews against these absurd rulings and are strongly considering challenging the government’s reckless failure to mandate that employers provide facemasks at work, especially for low paid front-line workers most at risk of catching COVID-19. The law is stacked against workers in this country and we are engaged in an uphill battle just to secure basic respect for workers’ safety and decent pay and working conditions. And OCS’ unlawful interference in the recognition ballot shows it is desperate to avoid recognising us and deny the entirely migrant and BAME workforce that it viciously exploits from getting a seat at the negotiating table where they can challenge the poverty pay and atrocious terms and conditions this despicable company has them employed on”.

###

Notes to editors

For more quotes, information, and any other queries please contact:

Petros Elia, Organiser, Caseworker and UVW Rep. Email. petros@uvwunion.org.uk Tel. 07884 553443

Kane Shaw, Lead Researcher and Press Officer. Email. kane@uvwunion.org.uk Tel. 07950 92779

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