Petrochemicals giant Ineos has been ordered to compensate workers after it was found to have breached employment regulations.
In what has been hailed as a “major victory” for trade union Unite and its members, a tribunal has ruled that an employer cannot impose a pay offer on employees.
The dispute relates to almost 30 workers at the Ineos Grangemouth site
According to Unite, the long-anticipated employment appeal tribunal (EAT) judgement also has huge ramifications for workers across the board.
And the union has told employers that any attempts to impose pay deals or present them as a `final offer’ will be challenged.
Each of the 28 members involved in the Unite dispute, which dates back to 2017 have been awarded £3,830.
In total, the action is expected to cost Ineos more than £100,000 in compensation – the company has been contacted for comment.
Unite says the EAT decision makes it clear that an employer cannot simply rely on using the terminology “this is a final offer” to substantiate that a collective bargaining process is exhausted, and that it is entitled to make a direct approach to the workforce and bypass the recognised trade union.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “This is an important legal victory for Unite and the wider trade union movement. Employers everywhere should take note. Unite the union will use every tool at its disposal to defend collective bargaining and will not tolerate employers like Ineos trying to bypass their obligations to negotiate.”
The case was originally brought against Ineos by Unite members at the Grangemouth site after the company made a decision to unilaterally impose a pay award which the workforce had rejected.
It also served notice on its existing trade union recognition arrangements.
In response Unite members lodged claims contending that the pay imposition in 2017 was an unlawful inducement breaching the law.
The EAT upheld the decision but the case was delayed while a related case progressed to the Supreme Court.
Mark Lyon, Unite legal officer added: “We are delighted to secure success for our members with this important judgement. The case further develops a very important area of the law which is finally receiving long-overdue attention.
“The right of a recognised trade union to collectively bargain on behalf of its members is a fundamental right of workers and it is vital we rely upon the existing legislative provisions to ensure that right is respected and upheld.”