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Trade unions: External pressure justifies removal of union official

This report relates to 1 case(s)

  • expand disabled

    Smyth-Britt v Chubb Security Personnel [2004] All ER (D) 156 (Mar) EAT (0 other reports)

Key points

In Smyth-Britt v Chubb Security Personnel, the EAT holds:

  • An employer that was threatened with the loss of its contract with a third party if it did not remove one of its employees - a trade union official - from the third party's site had no purpose to prevent or deter the employee from taking part in trade union activities, or to penalise him for doing so, within the meaning of s.146(1) of the TULR(C)A.
  • "Purpose" must be interpreted as meaning the purpose of the employer, and the tribunal had been right to concentrate on the purpose of the employer alone. Although such an interpretation limits the protection afforded by the statutory provisions, its effect is tempered by the burden placed on an employer by s.148(1) to prove the purpose for which it acted or omitted to act, where the employee has suffered detriment. This was a sufficient obstacle to an employer that sought to use third-party pressure as a pretext for preventing or deterring trade union activities.
  • It was the third party that had such a purpose, and the employer's purpose in removing the employee was simply to retain its contract with the third party. Therefore, although the employee suffered a detriment, as there are no provisions in the TULR(C)A for aiding unlawful acts, his claim was dismissed.