On 23 October 2014, John Pearson received a response from PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka. You can read the letter in PDF format here.
Rather than concede the demands made in the letter, Mark seeks to justify the original position of the union in not supporting John’s case. As the letter contains some false assertions, John has offered some clarification:
Mark says that the full facts of my case have not been made known and that it would not be in my interests that supplementary information which he claims to possess should be placed in the public domain. I have informed him that I have absolutely nothing to fear from the facts and if there is relevant supplementary information to that which I have already published then it is my wish that he publish this without delay.
In the fifth paragraph of his letter, he repeats false assertions concerning the trade union activities for which I was unfairly dismissed by the employer, all of which are categorically refuted by the Tribunal verdict. Both the Tribunal’s judgment, with full written reasons and my ‘Commentary on the Tribunal verdict’ explain why Mark’s assertions are all utterly false.
As to the main thrust of Mark’s letter, the same ‘hoist on my own petard’ thesis that was used against me by the NEC speaker at the union’s 2014 Annual Delegate Conference, the suggestion that I was acting as some sort of maverick, or ‘Don Quixote’, breaching collective responsibility, the Tribunal’s judgment refutes such nonsense definitively. I was carrying out, as a branch secretary under committee instructions, duties in the members’ interests that it is the responsibility of the appropriate representatives of a recognised trade union to carry out whenever an employer announces redundancies.
In the ‘Commentary on the Tribunal verdict’, I explain that my case concerns the fundamental issue of the legal protection which union representatives have, under Section 152 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, against being dismissed for carrying out trade union activities. Hence it is of fundamental importance in relation to protection of the duties that union reps do on a frequent basis.
Mark refers to the advice that the union received from its solicitor that my claim did not have a reasonable prospect of success. This assessment was patently incorrect – I won. I proceeded with private legal representation, because I was confident that I would win. I was confident because the employer had breached the protection I enjoyed under S152 of TULRA and that the dismissal was automatically unfair.
I suggest that it is significant that the employer has not appealed the judgment. The outcome should be celebrated by a union which is interested in protecting its reps from attack by employers.
Mark makes a rather strange assertion in his tenth paragraph, “Significantly, the Tribunal stated that your dismissal could have been avoided had you participated in the process”. It says no such thing.
My victimisation by the employer took part in the context that the latter was carrying out mass redundancy dismissals. Many of our members were unfairly selected for redundancy or were dismissed in circumstances which did not constitute genuine redundancy. Many sought union support in claiming unfair dismissal at Employment Tribunal. Not one of those members has, to the best of my knowledge, been supported legally by the union. I think that Mark is in denial in not recognising deficiencies in providing support for members in ET cases.
I have taken up Mark’s offer to discuss his letter and asked him when he can make himself available to do so.
I have also challenged him to debate the issue of PCS’s support or lack thereof for victimised reps and for members who have been victims of wrongdoing by employers, at branch meetings and public meetings.
This website will continue to provide updates as the effort to secure redress for John and improve the legal support offered to PCS members continues.