A furious row has erupted between Unite and housing trust Peabody after the union accused the charity of booting out one of its shop stewards.
Unite alleges that shop steward Teresa Santucci, who it says has a 19-year-long impeccable employment record with London-based trust, was summarily dismissed because she is disabled and as a result of her trade union activities.
Unite claims she was sacked "on the spot" without a single allegation being levelled against her, contrary to Peabody's own policies and procedures and in breach of all employment legislation.
Peabody vehemently denied the allegation today. A spokesman said its decision to end Ms Santucci's employment was due to her performance and "had absolutely nothing to do with her disability or union activities.
"Teresa's managers have tried, over a number of years, to tackle these performance issues positively and creatively. Regrettably it has not been possible to remedy the situation. While the matter remains unresolved, it would not be appropriate to comment further."
But Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus dismissed this claim saying that mother-of-two Ms Santucci was not the subject of any investigation, capability or disciplinary procedure.
Ms Marcus said she believed that the incident was indicative of a wider "corporatisation" and anti-union stance at the charity and that Unite members had spoken of a climate of fear, bullying and overwork.
She said: "Peabody clearly decided that Teresa was 'problematic' and simply decided to get rid of her. They have not come up with a single allegation other than the notion that she and her manager 'didn't get on'.
"The reality is that she has been victimised because of her disability [a form of repetitive strain disorder] and because she was a Unite rep who stuck her head above the parapet.
"There is simply no plausible alternative explanation as to why Peabody acted in such an appalling way - having worked there for 19 years, she was just called in by HR and sacked.
"George Peabody would be turning in his grave if he knew how the organisation he founded for the common good and the poor of Victorian London was behaving."
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