Thanet council has made an official complaint to the GMB union asking for the removal of a regional representative from any council involvement and revealing that legal advice is being sought over “breach” of a non disclosure agreement.
The letter was sent following a ‘whistleblowing’ email that was sent to all district councillors highlighting the case of a TDC officer who is in a grievance process amid complaints about senior management at the local authority.
In the letter from the GMB rep serious allegations were made claiming ‘victimisation’ of the council employee who raised his grievance last Summer.
The letter said the staff member, who is waiting for the full grievance process to be completed more than a year after his complaint was lodged, has been suspended twice, had Human Resources support removed and was told to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement to read the independent investigation report into his complaint.
But Thanet council says there are “serious concerns that his (the trade union rep) continuing actions and inability to follow the council’s employment policies and procedures are a detriment to those members of GMB employed by the council.”
The letter of complaint to the GMB, which has also been forwarded to all district councillors, says the rep has made “unfounded or inaccurate allegations,” and his actions have potentially put the staff member he represents in “breach* of member/officer protocol and that employee is “considered to be no longer following the council’s grievance process.”
The letter also reveals the council is seeking advice on bringing injunction proceedings (a court order) against the rep and the GMB for ‘breach’ of a signed non disclosure agreement.
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that the council has been forced into a position to respond to such matters publicly. The council is taking this exceptional step in responding as it considers it to be in the public interest to do so.
“The council has made a formal complaint to the GMB about the conduct of a GMB regional representative at Thanet and has also asked for his immediate removal and replacement as the GMB regional representative at the council.
“The grounds for that action include:
- Failure to follow the council’s HR and other policies and procedures
- Making unfounded allegations about staff
- Attempting to coerce Councillors to involve themselves in a disciplinary and grievance matter when he knew that they had no authority to act
- Putting a confidential HR matter in the public domain
“The council has serious concerns that his continuing actions and inability to follow the council’s employment policies and procedures are a detriment to those members of GMB employed by the council. Therefore we require that the GMB officer should be immediately replaced as the GMB contact for Thanet District Council and be replaced with an alternative GMB official.
“Public attacks on staff are unacceptable. Council staff are constrained in the response they may make to public comments. Staff have a right to expect that any criticism of their conduct or behaviour will be conducted through procedures agreed by the council.
“Those procedures follow the Council’s Constitution and employment policies, the principles of fairness, the right to a fair hearing and ACAS guidance. Our employment policies have also been approved by the recognised trade unions including the GMB. Frankly, it is unacceptable that a GMB representative breaches the employment rights of any council employee.”
The GMB has been contacted for a response