An Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgment has ruled that chemicals business Ineos cannot impose a pay offer, and that it must compensate workers employed at its Grangemouth site for trying to do so.
The EAT has awarded £3,830 each to 28 employees, members of the union Unite, who took the claim. It is estimated that Ineos’ legislation breach will cost more than £100,000 in compensation.
According to the ruling, an employer cannot rely on using terminology such as “this is a final offer” in order to say that a collective bargaining process is finished, but that it is entitled to make a direct approach to the workforce and bypass the recognised trade union.
The case was originally brought against Ineos by Unite members in 2017, when it decided to impose a pay award that had previously been rejected by the workforce, and to serve notice on its existing trade union recognition arrangements. Unite members claimed that the pay imposition was an unlawful inducement, breaching the law. The EAT upheld the decision, however the case was then delayed.
Sharon Graham, general secretary at Unite, explained that this ruling was significant for employee rights, because it provides clarity on what constitutes an unlawful pay offer.
She added: “This is an important legal victory for Unite and the wider trade union movement. Employers everywhere should take note. Unite the union will use every tool at its disposal to defend collective bargaining and will not tolerate employers like Ineos trying to bypass their obligations to negotiate.”
Mark Lyon, legal officer at Unite, said: “We are delighted to secure success for our members with this important judgement. The case further develops a very important area of the law which is finally receiving long-overdue attention.”
Ineos has been contacted for comment.