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Thompsons NI and Unite win fight for member’s right to union representation

A major chain store in Ireland which does not recognise trade unions has been brought to book for refusing to allow a member of Unite the Union their legal right to be accompanied at an internal disciplinary hearing by a union representative.

The chain store insisted that the worker did not have a right to have a union official present, as their company handbook only allowed for representation by fellow employees. They maintained this position, despite being advised by Unite and Thompsons NI Solicitors that union representation was a legal right.

The employer eventually backed down and abandoned the flawed proceedings but did not pay compensation to the member until the Tribunal ordered them to do so.

John O’Neill, Employment Rights Manager at Thompsons NI said: “We welcome this decision highlighting the important right to be accompanied by a union representative at internal hearings.

“This is one of a number of cases we have brought in recent years for members of various unions to assert and uphold the rights of employees to be represented by their union representative at any disciplinary or grievance hearing irrespective of whether or not the employer recognises that union or any union and irrespective of any attempts in company handbooks or otherwise to limit the right.”