RMT Wins Legal Ruling For Your Right To Choose Your Rep

RMT has won a landmark legal victory that upholds your right to be represented by a union rep of your choice even if he or she works for a different company.

TfL employee and RMT member Lucy Davies took her case to Employment Tribunal after her employer refused to allow the rep of her choice, Janine Booth, to represent her at a disciplinary appeal hearing. Janine had represented Lucy at the earlier disciplinary hearing without objection from TfL. But when Janine and Lucy turned up to the appeal hearing, the TfL managers running the hearing refused to proceed with Janine present, as she works for London Underground Ltd rather than TfL.

The managers produced an 'approved list' of union reps and demanded that Lucy choose a rep from that list instead!

This is not acceptable to RMT or our members. If the member does not choose the representative, then they are not a representative! Every worker should have the right to decide who s/he wants sitting alongside him/her in a disciplinary hearing.

The law upholds this principle too. The 1999 Employment Relations Act gives every worker the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary hearing by either:

  • an accredited union representative;
  • a trade union official (ie. someone employed by the union); or
  • a workplace colleague.

Nothing in the law states that the accredited union representative must work for the same employer, and nothing in the law gives employers to right to compile an 'approved list' of union reps.

When the Employment Tribunal adjudicated on Lucy's case last Thursday (13 November), it found in Lucy's favour. The Tribunal ruled that TfL had breached the law and denied Lucy her legal rights. Importantly, it made a finding that an employer can not exclude an accredited trade union representative from representing a member just because that union rep works for a different company.

This victory means more rights for RMT members - and should send a loud and clear message to TfL and other employers that RMT will not let them deny justice to our members.