The GMB - A Shameful, Self-Serving Shambles?
'In my time of need, those I expected to support me threw me to the wolves, and not content with that, held me down to enable the wolves a better bite'
An injured factory worker has accused the GMB of corruption and covering up the truth, after being forced out of his job with no support from, and allegedly with collusion from, the union.
Carl Bromfield, a trade unionist for 40 years, is still in dispute with the GMB, and cites a catalogue of apparent incompetence and indifference from local and regional officials spanning more than four years.
He was forced to take sick leave from his job as a kiln placer in the Potteries after stress damage to his left knee which left him unable to work. As the injury was work-related, he initiated an Industrial Injury claim, and expected the support of his union. Instead, he was accused of fraud by their legal team.
'I had my first meeting with the union lawyer in January 2015. He levelled accusations at me of fraud, and suggested the reason for my absence was that I did not wish to work nights'
'He produced a document containing these accusations, but refused to give me a copy; when I explained that I had already had surgery and sent my employer all the relevant details, he couldn't change the subject quickly enough'
Despite further repeated requests, the solicitor still refused to give Carl a copy of the accusations against him, saying it was a private document. He made a formal complaint against the solicitor to the union - two months later, without resolving the situation, they closed down his complaint.
In June 2016, he made an official complaint to the GMB office in Stoke-on-Trent about the conduct of their legal team and offered to confront the solicitor in the presence of union officials - this was refused.
The complaint was then passed to the Halesowen office - three months later, without interviewing Carl or viewing all the available evidence, they ruled against him.
Carl then made a complaint to the Regional Secretary - and again, without even speaking to him, they ruled against him, and stated, wrongly, that he had exhausted the complaints procedure.
According to GMB's own rulebook, Carl was entitled to make an appeal under Rule 6 - which also states that members should have 'a reasonable opportunity to present their case either orally or in writing, to support their case with written statements or by using witnesses, and to hear the evidence against their complaint, to answer it and to question witnesses'
The Regional Secretary was forced to reopen the case two weeks later after Carl launched an official Rule 6 appeal, and it was passed to his local Branch Secretary. For ten weeks, Carl heard nothing, despite sending several recorded letter an emails asking for updates on his case.
'In the end, I was sick of her sitting on her hands and reported her to GMB HQ in London - a few weeks later, the branch secretary sent me an email informing me that she had held my official appeal at the branch meeting a few weeks earlier, and had ruled against me'
'The union rule book clearly states that I should have been invited to provide my evidence and put my case to the branch. I complained to union HQ in London and was invited to a hearing in Halesowen, miles away'
'They were fully aware that I had pain and mobility issues and no viable transport - in effect, they invited me to a meeting that they knew I could not attend'
'Because the GMB union refused to represent me, I was forced to complain to the Legal Ombudsman, who ruled that I had received poor service from their legal team'
Because the GMB would not honour its commitment to represent him as a union member, Carl was then forced to approach ACAS to initiate a case for constructive dismissal - which was successful following mediation.
He has reported the conduct of the officials to GMB General Secretary Tim Roache, but the matter was simply passed back to the very people involved.
Carl is now awaiting reconstructive surgery on his le, to be followed by a knee replacement, after which he opes to finally be able to return to work
'There is a big difference between being accused of fraud and being guilty of fraud, and I have proven my innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt and, in the process, forced my accusers to backtrack and hide away'
'If they feel the accusations are correct, why do they not hold a disciplinary hearing and expel me? Because that would enable me to complain to the government's Certification Officer, and the GMB are terrified of being subjected to an official investigation - they don't want their dirty linen viewed in public'
'I have been unable to work since 2014, I have had two operations and am on the waiting list for major surgery, and during that time I have had to take on my employer, my union, and their legal team'
'I have been a trade unionist for over 40 years, and the only reason I have not left the GMB is that as a member I have a platform from which I can challenge them. They are nothing but a bunch of unprincipled cowboys - if they cannot even respect their own rulebook, then what use are they? They are so full of their own self-importance that they have forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the reason why unions were founded in the first place. Join this union at your peril'
Carl has written a number of online reviews to inform people of his experience, but recently found that he was unable to do so.
'There appeared to be an attempt to block my server from accessing the union law firms web-page, preventing me from placing a review. The advertising standards authority has investigated my complaint and has contacted the company that handles law-firm reviews, and I can now post my review'
'The unions law firm even tried to suggest that their anti-virus software must have prevented my access in error, but they claimed that there was no deliberate attempt on their part'
After hearing Carl's story, we decided to take a look at what other GMB members had experienced. We didn't have to look very hard to find this
Although there were a couple of OK reviews, more than 9 out of 10 described their experience as bad, citing a number of reasons and situations where they felt the union had let them down badly.
We contacted the GMB for their comments regarding Carl's case, but at time of writing, 48 hours later, have received no response other than this to our request:
We asked: We have been contacted by one of your members, a Mr Carl Bromfield from the Stoke-on-Trent area, who says he has received very poor treatment from the GMB both regionally and nationally, and also from the solicitor you appointed to advise him about his industrial injury case.
I have attached a rough synopsis of Mr Bromfield's story as he has told it to me, and would welcome any response you might wish to make. The story is scheduled to run tomorrow afternoon, so I would appreciate a reply before then if possible, though we can run your response later if not. Thank you for your assistance.