A Bromley Council worker is alleging her employer subjected her to a “sustained campaign of bullying and discrimination” because of her role as the local union representative.

Unite the union served the council with papers on March 31 in a case alleging that Branch Secretary Kath Smith was victimised as she tried to carry out legitimate trade union activities.

Library worker Ms Smith claims that Bromley Council refused her the right to stand at departmental elections, repeatedly refused her time off in lieu to represent members on non-working days and failed to fix her phone and computer to prevent her from contacting union members.

She told News Shopper: “The council’s treatment of me is clearly intended to punish or put me off from carrying out trade union activities.

"However, the council needs to be aware that in attacking me, they are attacking a union of 1.4 million members, not one individual – and they will get an appropriate union response.

“We will continue to be the fightback union, defending our members and campaigning for quality public services for the people of Bromley and throughout London.

“Privatisation of council services is a race to the bottom for the benefit of the few and not the many.”

She also says the council breached her right to take reasonable paid time off for trade union duties and training on numerous occasions since the council removed full-time trade union facility time in June 2015.

Unite say they offered to pay for this but the council scrapped it on the basis of alleged cost-saving.

Bromley Council asserts that it has not withdrawn facility time for trade union representatives and has continued to consider reasonable time off for trade union representatives to undertake legitimate trade union duties, albeit under a different arrangement since March 2015.


Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “What we are witnessing is a sustained campaign of victimisation against Kath Smith, who has worked for the library service since 1997, for her legitimate trade union activities.

“We believe that Kath has been singled out because of her brave stance against the council’s mass privatisation campaign which has already seen the parks service being outsourced.

“Libraries are next on the ‘hit’ list.”

A spokesman for Bromley Council said: “Mrs Smith’s solicitors served a claim upon the Council yesterday alleging amongst other things, refusals to allow time off for trade union duties.

“The Council has not yet been served by the Employment Tribunal in relation to this claim, therefore it would be premature and not appropriate to respond in detail at this stage.”

“Although it is a separate matter and is already a matter of public record, the Council continues to look at ways of delivering a comprehensive library service which has seen investment and a number of new modern libraries coming into use in recent years.

“The latest proposals potentially mean appointing a provider to operate Bromley’s libraries as part of the shared management approach already in place.”

The employment tribunal to hear the case is expected in the summer.