Legal action planned after staff given ‘no notice’ of charity closure

08 Mar 2024 News

By wedninth, Adobe

A workers’ union is planning legal action on behalf of staff at a domestic abuse charity after they were given “no notice” of its sudden closure this week.

Unite said its members at Glasgow East Women’s Aid (GEWA) only found out about the charity’s decision to close through the media.

A statement on the charity’s website now confirms its closure and says its priority will be to support its beneficiaries.

“We will continue to liaise with partners, including the regulator, Care Inspectorate, funders, and the council, throughout this difficult time,” it reads.

Staff previously voted for strike action after allegedly being dismissed and suspended after making bullying allegations.  

Unite: ‘One of the worst cases of mismanagement we have come across’

In October, 13 of Unite’s members at GEWA voted to take part in industrial action after claims that five employees were dismissed and others were suspended after allegations of bullying were made.

At the time, GEWA would not confirm whether employees had been let go and said that strike action was not justified. 

Unite said it secured a “legal victory” for the five dismissed workers last year, who were reinstated in January 2024. 

The union said first heard that GEWA had been “placed into administration” by media sources. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the lack of consultation from the charity prior to the closure was “potentially illegal” and that it would contact members “to progress protective award claims being lodged against the organisation”.

“The mismanagement at Glasgow East Women’s Aid is one of the worst cases we have ever come across,” she said.

“Make no mistake we will get to the bottom of this sorry mess and we will fight for all our members to secure justice.

“It is our understanding that the organisation being placed in administration was primarily due to public monies either being withheld or withdrawn by Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government.

“We are urgently seeking clarity on whether this is in fact the case because there has been zero transparency.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish charity regulator, OSCR, said: “OSCR has been engaging with Glasgow East Women's Aid and partner organisations.

“The charity has sought and received OSCR's consent to wind up and we are working to ensure that it takes the necessary steps to do this, and that those currently using services continue to receive the support they need.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council told Civil Society: “We are aware of the GEWA intention to close.

“While it is extremely disappointing the board has had to take this decision, the focus now is to maintain the continued delivery of support and services to women and children affected by domestic abuse.

“Officers, along with representatives from other funders of GEWA, have been working closely with the organisation during this difficult period and will continue to do so.”

GEWA: ‘The board has taken advice from liquidators’

A spokesperson for the board at GEWA said: “We are deeply saddened by the closure of the centre.

“The board has taken advice from liquidators and employment specialists around the closure process. It is confident that all legal processes have been followed.
“Staff have been offered support through the employee assistance programme and we continue to be in communication with them and their representatives to help them transition through this difficult time.”

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