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19.08.2020 / News / Press releases /

Victory as UK’s ‘largest independent wholesaler of fruit and veg’ ordered to reinstate warehouse worker found to have been sacked for complaining about lack of PPE

PRESS RELEASE 19/08/2020
For immediate release

Victory as the UK’s ‘largest independent wholesaler of fruit and veg’ ordered by a judge to reinstate a warehouse worker found to have been sacked for complaining about the lack of PPE 

  • London Employment Tribunal orders Premier Fruits – UK’s largest independent fruit and veg wholesaler – to reinstate a warehouse worker they had sacked for having complained about a 25% cut to his pay and a lack of PPE and social distancing. 
  • The company Chairman was caught on tape saying ‘he would not be dictated to by a union’ and saying ‘unions will ruin this country’. 
  • The judgment, known legally as ‘interim relief’, is made only in exceptional cases where an Employment Tribunal is satisfied that such strong evidence exists of an employer victimising a worker for their trade union membership that they can be ordered to continue paying the worker’s wages until a final hearing or to reinstate the worker with full pay. 

The trade union United Voices of the World (UVW) celebrated a victory yesterday after one of its members, Mr Alejandro Morales, a warehouse worker in New Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall was granted ‘interim relief’ by an Employment Tribunal after having been found by a judge to have been unlawfully dismissed during the pandemic for complaining about a lack of PPE and social distancing and an attempt to cut his pay by 25%.

The decision saw Mr Morales reinstated with a full back payment of his wages and a guarantee of a 100% of his wages moving forward rather than the 75% the company Chairman, Jason Tanner, had tried to cut him down to prior to dismissing him, despite declaring in a meeting that he still had millions of pounds in the bank.

A copy of the Employment Tribunal’s decision states, “He [Mr Tanner] makes very clear his irritation that the Claimant [Mr Morales] had gone to the Union without speaking to him and expressed views that are strongly critical of trade unions…Mr Tanner acted extremely adversely to the Claimant bringing a grievance via the Union. The remarks recorded at the meeting on the 12 May indicate strong hostility to trade union involvement. The member of staff who recorded the meeting was [also] dismissed 3 days later”.  

Some of the remarks made by Mr Tanner and listed in the ruling includes, “I am extremely upset and disappointed over this one person who decided to go to the union…I will not be dictated to by a union. What they did to the firm 12 years ago was disgusting. If they are not careful, they will ruin this country”.

Speaking after the ruling was announced, Mr Morales said “I feel very good, I feel like the fight and all of the pain has been worth it, I feel really grateful to UVW, and to everyone who helped me, but I am especially grateful to Celina, my caseworker, who helped me hugely, was very patient, and always in contact with me. And I would also like to give a huge thanks to Petros, and to Cormac for his work in the court”.

Also speaking shortly after the ruling, UVW Employment Tribunal Caseworker, Cormac Devlin, said the following, “This victory should empower workers to organise collectively and to speak out against pay cuts and unsafe working conditions. The employment tribunal’s decision to reinstate Alejandro, following his unlawful dismissal for raising a grievance through UVW, demonstrates that workers are legally protected against union busting employment practices. There’s power in a union and UVW will have your back if you have the courage to speak out in your workplace”.

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Editors notes

For more information, quotes, and a recording of Mr Tanner’s remarks, contact:

 About Premier Fruits

Premier Fruits is a high-end fruit and vegetable wholesaler based in Covent Garden London. Company records filed in March 2019 show the company had increased its turnover by 55% and had a gross turnover of £27,335,592 and a gross profit of £7,722,566. However, and in spite of these huge sums of money, the company decided that it was appropriate to slash the wages of its warehouse workers by 25% without their prior consultation. Something which is unlawful under UK employment law.

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