These extracts from the section of the General Secretary's report to RMT's 2009 AGM concerning the union's legal services cover some London Underground station staff cases ...
The Union's service of legal advice and representation is of key importance and benefit to our members and their families. Legal advice is provided on all matters via the Union's helplines. In accordance with Rule many cases receive a written opinion on the merits of the case from our solicitors. Legal representation is provided primarily for employment tribunal or personal injury claims although other types of claim can also be considered appropriate.
In 2008 the Union received 401 applications for legal assistance to Employment Tribunals. All cases are assessed by our solicitors and if they advise that the claim has prospects of success, legal representation is provided. The Annual Reports of the Tribunals service consistently show that only 10% of all unfair dismissal claims are successful at a Tribunal. The figure is even worse for discrimination cases, around a 3% success rate. Therefore I am glad to report the following examples of the Union's victories:
Unfairly dismissed and discriminated against by London Underground
A disabled member who was sacked on medical grounds by a new manager after shift arrangements designed to accommodate his disability were reviewed was awarded £166,990 by an Employment Tribunal.
The tribunal agreed that the member had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). The award is one of the highest for a DDA claim.
The level of the member's sick leave was also accepted due to his medical condition. But a new manager removed those adjustments, insisting that he work shifts on the normal duty roster, and bullied him. The member was eventually dismissed on medical grounds which took into account his previous level of sickness absence.
The tribunal concluded that the Claimant's previous fixed day shift in the ticket office with toleration of a higher level of sickness absence were reasonable adjustments that should have been maintained.
They also concluded that further alternative reasonable adjustments would have been allowing the Claimant a trial period on the new shift system and/or finding him suitable alternative work without the need to attend interview.
London Underground has given notice that it intends to appeal this decision. The Union will be defending this victory.
A member asked to carry a large and heavy water bottle from Kentish Town station to Camden Station received £4,800 after he hurt his back as a result. The member, a Customer Services Agent, did not have manual handling responsibilities and had not been trained in manual handling. No risk assessment was done and his employers had not considered if there was any way that manual handling could be avoided in transporting the bottle.