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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50165
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I am looking on where we should go

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I am looking for advice on where we should go for help when the Union rep who was representing us is no longer answering our emails or phonecalls. It has been just over a year since the union took my partners case, he was made redundant, his rep told him and we also believe he was unfairly dismissed. When everything first happened the rep, came up from England to Scotland, went to meetings with my partners employer, dealt with emails, Acas etc and then when no agreement was made applied for a tribunal. The rep told us he never says this to any of his clients but that 100% we would win our case as my partners employer had clearly broken at least 5 employment laws.
So we waited to get a tribunal date.
We have now been waiting for over a year, we don't know if this is normal or not so have emailed and phone the rep to ask how the case is coming along. The rep is completely ignoring us, doesn't answer any emails, we have probably sent one every two months. We have phone the union and they have said they will pass on the message and get him to call and he doesn't.
We are now thinking something has gone wrong and they are not telling us, we just want to know what is happening.We are still paying the union fees every month, we don't even know if we are supposed to. We basically just don't know what we should do now.
Thanks Kirsty
Hello was a claim actually submitted in the tribunal?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We are presuming it has but have never had anything to confirm this. We were told the union were happy to go forward and represent us and did receive an email from the rep stating the application was ready for submission and he hoped to have it submitted by the 2nd of January 2015. He then sent an email on the 13th of January 2015 requesting that my partner complete and send off the fee and remissions form, which my partner did.
We then just waited and never started emailing the rep until June 2015 when we hadn't heard anything. He replied saying he would chase it up but was very busy. So we waited another two months and enquired again, then again, then again and have had nothing in reply at all. We are starting to worry that maybe the rep did not get the claim in on time or something, but really we are just worrying because we have no information at all. We just don't know what is happening and emails etc are not getting us anywhere, we need to know what we can do next, about this. When my partner was made redundant, the job came with a house so he didn't just lose his job, we were homeless too. We believed we had a very strong case against his employer, were lucky to have union representation to help us sort it all out and now we don't know what we should do.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
At one stage the rep asked us if we wanted to go to the press with the story as this can sometimes speed things up, but we said no and really since then we have had little back from the rep. I am unsure if this could have anything to do with it.
Is your partner still a member of the union in question?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes even though he was unemployed for 6 months and had no income, we have continued to pay the monthly subscription. He was a member for 2 years prior to the redundancy as well.
Thank you. First of all, by not replying to you or dealing with your case, the union may be acting in breach of contract. After all, you pay them a membership fee and in return they provide a service. If they fail to provide such a service then they can act in breach of contract. Alternatively, if they have done something wrong it could amount to negligence, depending on what has happened. However, I would say that if they had applied to a tribunal a year ago, then you should have definitely hard of a hearing ate by now, it only takes a few months, not a year. So I wonder if they never actually applied to the tribunal, which is why they are ignoring your calls…it just speculation on my part though. In the first instance I would try and contact the tribunal to see if a claim was ever made. You need to check the local tribunal to the employer as that is where it would have been filed. Next I would contact the union but try to go higher than the person you have dealt with. So for example, if they have a formal complaints procedure, I suggest you use that to complain about the lack of service you have received. Finally, you could consider court if they have been negligent or failed to offer their services and you could seek compensation but I suggest you exhaust all other avenues first as this should be a last resort. I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much for your time and answers, I will look into everything you have suggested. If the tribunal hasn't been applied for we will be very upset as my partner was treated very unfairly and it was never about money but recognition from his employer that that is not how you treat people.
My one other worry about the tribunal was that my partners employer is a multi millionaire, landed gentry who is no doubt extremely well connected. My fear was that he would have contacts who could just keep putting our application to the bottom of the pile, burying it so to speak. It's maybe just paranoia from just not knowing but living on the employers 100+ acre estate was rather like living in the Victorian era, they certainly didn't take kindly to being questioned and were very arrogant and refused to admit any wrong doing. They even tried to scare is by saying if we took them to a tribunal they would be charging us rent at an extortionate rate for the month we had to still live on the estate prior to moving out. If the tribunal hasn't been applied for does that mean we can't ever take up our grievance with the employer.
There is a 3 month time limit to apply to a tribunal for unfair dismissal so technically you would be out of time if no claim has been lodged. However, you could try and apply for an extension of time by arguing that you entrusted this with the union which negligently let you down and they may allow you to submit a claim out of time If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
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