The sacking of two union reps, at the Peabody charitable housing trust and the UK Border Agency, so early into 2013 continues an existing pattern of the victimisation of union reps.
Last year the number of union reps victimised, via sacking or suspension, for being union reps and for their union activities was 42.
Although slightly lower than the total for 2011 (50), last year continued the trend for a higher number of union reps being victimised since 2008 when the number rose above 40 for the first time since 1998.
The highest numbers occurred in 2009 when there were 81 cases of victimisation. Of those victimised in 2012, 29 were sacked and 13 suspended, representing a similar ratio to previous years.
Almost none of those who are sacked are reinstated if they win their cases at an employment tribunal because there is very little legal compulsion to re-employ them. Instead, employers are willing to pay them off.
The worry for the trade union movement is not only that the victimisations are taking place but that they are happening at a time when the overall number of union reps is in decline and attempts by unions to renew and supplement existing union reps with fresh ones is becomingly increasingly hard.
Not only are such activists are the not only the eyes and ears of the unions on the front line of the workplace but they are expected to carry out the main functions of the union's representative work in the workplace.
Only when problems get too severe would a full-time union officer be called in to assist.
Moreover, the declining number of full-time union officers - as a result of redundancies and exit programmes because of falling union income and revenue - means that they can do less work overall and so the workplace union reps are required to fill the vacuum.
Equally significant for the unions is that the overwhelming majority of cases of victimisation take place where there is already union recognition, indicating that unions are facing a battle with employers in their heartlands.
So in 2012, less than 10 per cent of cases took place in workplaces where unions were not recognised for collective bargaining.
It would appear that the vast majority of victimisation cases take place within the public sector.
However, because of the extensive role private-sector companies and organisations in the public sector, this is not so.
So such examples were to be found concerning Initial cleaning services in the National Health Service, Compass security services in the Ministry of Defence and NSL car parking for Ealing Council in London.
Nonetheless, within the education sector cases of victimisation by public-sector employers were notable in terms of their numbers (36 per cent of all cases in 2012) as were cases in transport, especially rail transport (17 per cent of all cases in 2012) and construction (14 per cent of all cases in 2012).
What is of note is that while many unions continue to use employment tribunals to try to gain some redress, more now appear prepared to use collective mobilisation including strike and industrial action - and with some success - to gain reinstatement.
This covers more than just the threat to take action and the balloting process leading to a Yes vote.
However, the current anti-union laws prevent in most cases, where the will existed, union members outside the immediate workplace taking action in support of a victimised rep.
Consequently, unions could not always bring to bear the fullest of pressure to bear in support of the victimised rep.
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