Frenzied bosses threaten sackings and wage cuts after tribunal ruling
FURIOUS bosses threw the toys out of the pram yesterday after unions won a sensational victory over holiday pay for millions of workers.
An employment appeal tribunal ruled in favour of general union Unite’s claims against industrial services giants Amec and Hertel, meaning all employers will now have to include overtime in calculations for holiday pay.
Baying big business chiefs threatened workers with pay cuts and jobs losses — and government reactions prompted fears of a mutual suck-up between bosses and ministers.
Sixteen workers — a mix of electricians, scaffolders and semi-skilled operatives — brought the case after working at a Nottingham power station two years ago.
They were routinely given overtime by their employers but when they took holiday, their pay did not take these extra hours into account.
Amec and Hertel had appealed against an earlier judgement in February that found in the workers’ favour. European Court of Justice rulings have also found that additional hours should be counted when calculating paid leave.
Unite legal director Howard Beckett said: “This ruling not only secures justice for our members who were short-changed, but means employers have got to get their house in order.
“Employers will now have to include overtime in calculating holiday pay, and those that don’t should be under no illusion that Unite will fight to ensure that our members receive their full entitlement.”
Construction union Ucatt warned the time was up for scrounging bosses. “Ucatt will be pursuing all construction employers to ensure that they fully comply with today’s decision and do not try to short change our members,” said general secretary Steve Murphy.
But bosses and their cronies reacted angrily to the ruling — and begged the government to let them off the hefty bill.
Manufacturing bosses’ group EEF head of employment policy Tim Thomas said: “Today’s ruling is a blow for employers, but we won’t see the full extent of damage until further down the line.
“It’s clear that many businesses will now be left facing difficult choices, despite having always complied with UK law, and there is a real danger that this ruling could ultimately hit jobs, pay and future investment.
“This is why ministers across government must act now to protect employers from the fallout.”
Confederation of British Industry director-general John Cridland joined the calls for state intervention, saying: “This is a real blow to UK businesses now facing the prospect of punitive costs potentially running into billions of pounds — and not all will survive, which could mean significant job losses.”
And Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable gave early signs of caving in.
“The government will review the judgment in detail as a matter of urgency,” he said.
“To properly understand the financial exposure employers face, we have set up a task force of representatives from government and business to discuss how we can limit the impact on business.”
Tribunal chiefs have imposed a three-month limit on retroactive claims for holiday pay.