The County You Live, Work And Play
Possible Result For Woolworths Workers In Bellshill
Former workers at the Woolworths store in Bellshill could be about to finally find out if they have won their fight for redundancy compensation.
Employees at the Main Street store have been denied payments - which could amount to four-figure sums - because the store had less than 20 of a staff when it closed in 2008.
In May 2013 shop workers’ union Usdaw won a landmark legal ruling at the Employment Appeal Tribunal against a legal interpretation which had excluded workers at smaller stores from a compensation scheme.
But they still received no cash because the Government appealed against the tribunal’s decision.
That appeal will be heard by the Court of Justice of the European Union next Thursday - almost six years since the store closed after the firm went into liquidation.
Former employee Ray Mitchell said: “It’s ridiculous that we have had to wait this long and I only hope the decision finally goes in our favour.
“We would like to think that the court will see sense and pay the award.”
Central Scotland list MSP and former Bellshill councillor Richard Lyle is also in no doubt the workers have a valid case.
He said: “Having previously raised the issue of a redundancy payment for employees who worked in any Woolworth store with less than 20 employees I was happy to support Usdaw in their UK court case against the decision not to pay.
“I was disappointed that after Usdaw won the case that the Tory UK government appealed the decision.
“Now Usdaw have been given the green light to appeal to the EU court this month I wish them well and fully support this excellent union in their fight for shopworkers who fully deserve a redundancy payment.”
The ruling will affect workers made redundant from clothing retailer Ethel Austin as well as Woolworths.
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “We are pleased that this case is going to be heard sooner rather than later because we had feared that it wouldn’t be concluded until autumn next year.
“This will mark the end of a six-year legal wrangle about workers who were unfairly ruled out of an award for not being properly consulted on their redundancy, simply because of the size of store they work in.
“Our case is morally and logically robust. It makes no sense that workers in stores of less than 20 employees were denied compensation, whereas their colleagues in larger stores did qualify for the award.
“These were mass redundancy situations. How can anyone suggest that the redundancies should be treated on a store-by-store basis?”