'Disability and trade union activities led to Peabody employee's sacking'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Legal
A Peabody employee was sacked because of her disability and trade union activities, Unite the Union has alleged.
The housing association, which manages over 19,000 properties in London, has strenuously denied the allegations.
Unite claims that shop steward Teresa Santucci was summarily dismissed and was not the subject of any investigation, capability or disciplinary procedure.
According to Unite, Ms Santucci - a mother of two with a 19-year "impeccable employment record" at the charitable trust - was sacked on the spot without a "single allegation levied against her, contrary to Peabody's own policies and procedures, and all employment legislation".
However, Peabody has responded that Ms Santucci dismissal had nothing to do with her disability or trade union activities and was entirely down to performance.
Unite regional officer Nicky Marcus 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 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."
In a statement, Peabody said: "The decision to terminate Teresa's employment had absolutely nothing to do with her disability or union activities. It was entirely due to her performance. 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."
Mr Marcus added: "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.
"We believe that this is indicative of a wider 'corporatisation' and anti-union stance at Peabody where our members tell us that far from the cosy, 'family' charity of Peabody of old, there now exists a climate of fear, bullying, overwork and control.
"Teresa's case is a perfect example of why Unite stands firmly against the coalition's downgrading of employment rights which makes it even easier to dismiss employees and harder for ordinary working people like Teresa to fight such an injustice.
"Our members at Peabody will not be intimidated. At an emergency meeting, it was agreed that Unite would launch a robust campaign for justice for Teresa."