Leeds, England – A builder who reneged on paying unfair dismissal compensation to an apprentice plumber has been directed by Leeds Employment Tribunal to now pay the trainee four times the original amount.
In 2007 Oliver Whiteley, 18, of Tadcaster, was employed by TiD Services as an Apprentice Plumber to train with Michael Alfonso Tyrell, a partner in the firm. After successfully completing his first year of training and college, he was suddenly dismissed in September 2008 and got in touch with his trade union, Unite.
David Sorensen, Partner of Morrish Solicitors, acting for Unite and Mr Whiteley, said today it had been a clear case of unfair dismissal, as stated in tribunal proceedings, and had TiD paid the agreed out of court settlement to Mr Whiteley there would have been no further action.
\”After TiD failed to pay Oliver, we relisted at the Employment Tribunal and the result is that TiD are not only instructed to pay, but they are instructed to pay four times the original amount.\” said Sorensen, adding \”Employers need to understand that trainees and apprentices have employment rights that are protected by law.\”
Speaking of the result, Mr Whiteley said today \”I\’m doing this because I want to become a plumber. It\’s all I ever wanted. This is not about money. It\’s about building my future. TiD said they would train me and it was all going fine, then when I was about to start my second year suddenly they didn\’t want to train me anymore and tried to get rid of me. I was lucky to have my parents and Unite backing me. The tribunal found in my favour that I had been unfairly dismissed, which is good in a way, but I\’d rather have an apprenticeship. Most trainees feel the same. They just want to do their training, get their tickets, get out there and work.\”
John Mallinder of Unite, today said \”It is shameful in 2009 that employers continue to act in such a cavalier way with young people like Oliver when all the trainees want to do is get the opportunity to join the workforce and build and develop their skills. This company has sought to take away that opportunity from Oliver, who was wishing to be trained and developed as a plumber. Trainees up and down the country are being told to put up and shut up, and a clear line has to be drawn to protect their rights.\”
Mallinder paid tribute to Mr Whiteley\’s parents, saying \”A major factor in this case has been parental support, and Oliver\’s parents have supported him in bringing his claim. To other trainees and apprentices, I would say that if your parents are behind you, and you are in a Union, you\’ll have a good chance at justice.\”
\”There is a clear need in this country now for indentured training that locks both parties, the employer and the trainee, into an equitable agreement to take the trainees through to NVQ3. These Training Service Agreements would take the trainee through to a certain skill level (rather than just a period of time) with either one employer or a group of employers,\” said Mallinder who also has been involved in designing training courses for the construction industry.
TiD had won some local fame with appearances on BBC\’s Look North when they faced financial difficulty on failing to secure a short-term loan. Mike Tyrrell later returned to the programme with news TiD had secured £30,000 in financial support from Yorkshire Forward on the back of the earlier report.
David Sorensen added a word of caution, \”The Tribunal ruling shows all employers must appreciate their employees have employment rights, and this is particularly important for those who are just starting out in their careers.\”
Oliver Whiteley remains optimistic about his future. \”Michael Alfonso Tyrell had a well-worn phrase, \”Don\’t insult my intelligence\”. Well don\’t insult mine, because I passed the City and Guilds exams thank you very much!\”
For further information please contact Vanessa Charters on 0759 5564764