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Wednesday 15th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

A COMPANY that threatened to sack workers if they did not accept a below-inflation pay rise was yesterday trying to wriggle out of a ruling that it should pay out more than £420,000 in compensation.

Kostal UK Ltd at Rotherham in Yorkshire makes automotive components and is part of a transnational corporation. Its 700 workers are members of union Unite.

The workforce overwhelmingly rejected a pay proposal from the company but Kostal sought to bypass union negotiations and wrote to workers saying they would forfeit a Christmas bonus of £270 if they did not accept.

In another letter it warned that workers who did not accept risked being sacked.

A Sheffield employment tribunal ruled that both actions amounted to unlawful inducements and awarded 56 Unite members more than £420,000 in compensation.

The company refused to accept the ruling and yesterday took the issue to an employment appeal tribunal (EAT) in London.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This is the first time an appeal court has considered this vital point of law.

“The EAT’s decision will set a binding legal precedent which employment tribunals across the UK will be obliged to follow in the future. This is a key case that employers and trade unions will be watching very closely.

“The importance of today’s hearing cannot be underestimated. The case is worth over £420,000 for the Unite members included in the claims and the legal point goes to the very heart and importance of trade union recognition.”

The trial is expected to continue today.