We have reported in previous postings on the case of the PCS HP North West Branch Secretary, John Pearson. In May 2013, the employer, HP supplied PCS with the statutorily specified details of proposals to sack 584 workers on 31 July. When John circulated those details to branch members, he was suspended and later dismissed on a charge of breaching company confidentiality.
The PCS HP Group Secretary, Alan Brown wrote to HP on 7 June 2013 condemning John’s suspension as an attack on the union and demanding his reinstatement.
However, a few months later, whilst mass sackings were still taking place, a work to rule was ongoing and John’s branch was conducting a consultative ballot on escalation of action, Alan wrote to John informing him that the union was no longer taking action to seek a remedy for him and that not only would John be unable to continue to hold office as Branch Secretary but that his membership of PCS was at an end forthwith.
The General Secretary, Mark Serwotka wrote to John on 10 January 2014 reaffirming the ending of union support, on the grounds that the union’s lawyers had advised that “we could not support any Employment Tribunal claim as there was no realistic prospect of securing your reinstatement” and that “neither the group nor the branch are in a position to take industrial action aimed at your reinstatement”.
John was forced to engage a private solicitor to fight an unfair dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal. Rank and file PCS activists responded with astonishment and anger at the abandonment of support for John by union officials and launched the John Pearson Defence Campaign, with the aim of reversing this withdrawal of support. Highly regrettably, at ADC 2014, a motion which sought to instruct the NEC to retrospectively give full support to John’s ET case and to fight for his reinstatement was defeated after personalised opposition was articulated by political opponents of John’s within the HP GEC.
Now an Employment Tribunal (http://tinyurl.com/jw656rb) has decided that John was unfairly dismissed and that the principal reason for the dismissal was that he had taken part in the activities of an independent trade union.
John has written to the General Secretary requesting that the union now fully funds his legal costs, supports his reinstatement claim in the second part of the Tribunal proceedings, which concerns the matter of remedy, and reinstates his PCS membership immediately.
Please pass resolutions at branch meetings and BECs calling upon the General Secretary to accede to John’s requests.
This unhappy episode for the union must be brought to an honourable and principled resolution and one which bolsters the union’s reputation for defending elected reps from victimisation.