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Thu September 19 2019

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Amey pair win unfair dismissal case

12 Mar 18 An employment tribunal has ruled that Amey was unfair to dismiss two maintenance workers for raising safety concerns at Liverpool Prison.

The men argued that Amey's switch to solo working would make it easy for prisoners to pinch their tools
The men argued that Amey's switch to solo working would make it easy for prisoners to pinch their tools

The BBC reports that John Bromilow and Harry Wildman were sacked by Amey on the grounds that they brought the firm into disrepute by discussing new working practices with the prison governor.

Amey took over the prison maintenance contract in June 2015 and introduced a new way of working that required maintenance staff to work alone on most jobs, rather than in pairs as they had always previously done.

Mr Bromilow and Mr Wildman, with many years of experience, challenged the new system on the grounds that it would be too easy for prisoners to steal tools from them. Ultimately they told the prison governor that they were consulting the Health & Safety Executive. Amey sacked them.

The employment tribunal ruled that the men were unfairly dismissed and had acted in good faith.

An Amey spokesperson told us: "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees, and as the facilities management provider at HMP Liverpool we understand and regularly review the risks faced by our maintenance team to ensure their safety, as well as that of the prisoners and guards.

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“We have a range of measures in place to ensure that our employees are able to carry out their work safely. All of our employees inform prison officers while working on the wing, and they are entitled to decline work that they feel is unsafe under our Wing Access Policy. All tasks are fully risk assessed and the appropriate support and mitigation put in place to ensure safe working.

“Proposals to change working practices were already under way before we took over the contract and we consulted about these changes before they were implemented. These working practices have now been in place for 18 months with no other incidences."

“We have a robust whistle-blowing policy in place across Amey which provides a number of channels for our employees to escalate concerns about their health and safety. We encourage all employees to follow these protocols so we can address their concerns quickly, and in the most thorough and efficient way possible.”

Jon Heath, solicitor for the pair, said it was a “scandalous” case and “one of the more startling examples of an unfair dismissal that I have come across".

The full story features on BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme on at 8pm on 13th March as part of a report on prison maintenance. It is also available on the BBC iPlayer.

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