Topshop cleaner dismissed for campaigning for the London Living Wage

Cloisters’ specialist employment barrister Akua Reindorf appeared for Susana Benavides, a cleaner employed by Britannia Services Ltd at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store. Ms Benavides was dismissed following her participation in a high profile campaign for the London Living Wage which was organised by her union, United Voices of the World.

The Tribunal found that it was clear “beyond any argument” that Ms Benavides was dismissed for taking part in the activities of an independent trade union.

The Tribunal also found that Ms Benavides was subjected to a number of detriments to deter her from participating in the activities of the union, including ostracising her at work, systematically trawling for a basis upon which to concoct a disciplinary case against her and telling her that Topshop was “watching her”.

The union’s campaign sought to put pressure on Topshop, the end user, to cancel its contract with Britannia because of the low wages paid to cleaners. The Tribunal rejected Britannia’s argument that this was not legitimate trade union activity and was a breach of the company’s social media policy. The Tribunal also rejected Britannia’s argument that a protest outside the Topshop store amounted to secondary picketing.

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