In January 2013, at Tribunal in Bristol, a bad boss was finally exposed after one worker’s long fight for the truth to be uncovered.
Back in the Autumn of 2011, a support worker was aggressive and unduly physical in dealing with a client with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. Another support worker also there, who knew the client better, managed to rescue the situation.
She reported the situation in the incident book, and tried to ‘whistle blow’ to the authorities but there was a problem: the bully was the boyfriend of one of the company managers. The experienced support worker was suspended, and eventually sacked. The bully was promoted. Also, to make matters worse, the person she ‘blew the whistle’ to in the authorities was also friends with the management, and rather than acting on the complaint they broke with confidentiality and reported the whistle-blower to her boss.
So far, so normal – the kind of attitude to service users we infamously saw at Winterbourne View in Bristol, along with the over-familiar relationship between regulator and company that has left Britain in billions of pounds in debt.
What can you do? Well, this brave woman happened to be a Fellow Worker (FW) in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Bristol General Branch. She asked the “Fighting Union” for help and they gladly gave it.
The IWW has no paid officers, salaried experts, office space, or in-house legal support. Its strength comes from training & supporting its rank-and-file members to fight their own battles, and this is exactly what this brave FW did.
The IWW provided her with certified representation in her disciplinary meetings, and advice from other FW’s with expert experience. The rest the FW did herself (with support from her equally dedicated partner!).
After being dismissed, and appealing the dismissal, the FW battled for over a year to bring the matter to employment tribunal, linking her case with another worker mistreated by the same company. It was only due to raising £3,000 to fund her own case that the FW was able to proceed, plus an equally massive amount of work from the co-claimant and their partner – Solidarity is Strength!
The tribunal exposed not only the incompetence of the care company, but also its dishonesty, and declared that all their key evidence was unreliable. It confirmed the IWW’s feeling all along – this case should never have got as far as tribunal. The only reason it did so was the care company’s arrogance in believing it could do what it wanted to its staff and service users. They were wrong.
The tribunal found the FW totally justified in her claim of unfair dismissal for whistle-blowing, and the authorities have opened an investigation into the activities of the care company. As these will also expose the authority’s own wrongdoing(the Care Quality Commission and the council have failed in their duty to protect her right to whistle-blow) there are concerns at how thorough these will be. Updates will be posted as we receive them.
The service user that suffered the abuse is thankfully no longer a client of the company, although his mother still has to continually battle to ensure adequate care for her son.
The FW will soon be informed of the settlement of her losses, assumed to be a 5-figure sum (less substantial legal fees).
The erosion of workers rights, by Tories and then New Labour, has made it harder and harder for bad bosses to be confronted and held to account, and this has created a culture of arrogance in the boss class that is ruining the lives of so many workers (and service users) in Britain today.
Let the story of this brave Fellow Worker be an inspiration to you! Join the IWW today, and we will train you to fight your bully boss, and then support you all the way!
An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
If you are in Bristol, you can find out more about the branch, and join, by going to www.bristoliww.org.uk
Otherwise, go to iww.org.uk/join to register and your local branch will contact you.