Five workers sacked by Glasgow Life, a Glasgow City Council-run firm, have won their case of unfair dismissal and awarded over £100,000 in compensation.
The Employment Tribunal’s (ET) judgement is a damning verdict on employment practices at Glasgow Life and a vindication of the workers’ arguments that they had done no wrong.
The workers, who worked as junior managers in Tollcross Pool, were awarded a “Non-Standard Work Payment” for working unsocial hours during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
These payments were agreed by the pool manager who sought authorisation from external line manager Debbie O’Brien. However, O’Brien was later asked by senior management to examine staff costs within Tollcross Pool.
The ET deemed O’Brien’s evidence “not credible or reliable”. She appointed herself to carry out a formal disciplinary investigation into these payments. The tribunal found that the disciplinary process was “fundamentally flawed” and her involvement had “tainted the investigation”.
There was “a conflict of interest” between O’Brien’s role in the disciplinary proceedings and her management role. The ET concluded that O’Brien’s investigation was inadequate, biased and undertaken with the intention to “implicate” the sacked workers.
One union insider said, “From the beginning this was a stich up and Glasgow Life sat on its hands.
“Questions need to be asked if these sackings were about making cuts, or was Debbie O’Brien acting to remove a potential competitor for the promoted post she now occupies in Tollcross Pool?
“Glasgow Life executive director Bridget McConnell and Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety chose not to intervene. An urgent investigation into how the firm conducts employment relations is now required. This cannot be swept under the carpet.”
Two other Tollcross workers who were also dismissed have internal appeal hearings outstanding