CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Security staff win jobs back two years after being sacked

Tribunal win for 'Croma 7'

21 November, 2019 — By Tom Foot

A SECURITY services firm headed-up by a former SAS squadron commander has been told to reinstate seven workers two years after they were sacked.

Croma Vigilant – a company that hires ex-squaddies to work as “high grade security officers” – has a contract with Camden Council to provide guards at its St Pancras offices, housing estate response teams and fire wardens in the Chalcots estate.

But the company dismissed seven staff in the last week of December 2017 following a dispute about failing to comply with a “vetting process” and requests for personal data, according to witness statements provided to an employment tribunal. Now the workers are due to be reinstated on December 27 after a tribunal judge upheld all their claims for unfair dismissal.

After the hearing, John Mann – who acted as the staff’s “McKenzie friend” advocate – said: “They all suffered. They were all saying, ‘we’ve done nothing wrong, how can we be sacked?’ One of them lost their house because of rent arrears. Another had taken a loan, and was paying that off when this happened; [he] started missing payments and ended up with the bailiffs chasing them. “People had to do Uber driving and stuff like that. Two years is a long time. We’re so glad they’ve had the perseverance to stick it through.”

Mr Mann, who is a Camden Unison rep, added: “The council is spending money on private firms like this who have to make a profit, and they are making a profit out of the public purse.

The only financial explanation of outsourcing is that you save money on salaries, but that is at the detriment of terms and conditions. It’s always the workers who suffer.” The “Croma 7” were transferred over to the company in 2017 from a former contractor, CE Security, under “TUPE” rules, which are supposed to ensure workers retain the same terms and conditions. But they were asked to reapply for their jobs and confirm personal details, against advice from their union.

Mr Mann said the company had claimed it was forced to sack workers who did not provide the information because of “third party pressure”.

Croma Vigilant says on its website it is run by “ex-military personnel” and boasts that “military standards are embedded in the DNA of the company”.

Its chairman is Sebastian Morley, who sensationally quit his role as Squadron Commander in Afghanistan in 2008, warning of “chronic underinvestment” in equipment by the Ministry of Defence. A former Captain of Scotland’s oldest Highland regiment, Black Watch, he retired from the army and set up a security business with former army colleagues.

Union chiefs are calling for the security contract to be brought back “in-house” following the dispute, but Camden Council said: “Camden Council requires all their contractors to have high standards with regard to the full range of employment issues, and expect them to deal with all employees fairly and following the appropriate policies and procedures.  “We will be meeting with Croma over the coming days to review the decision as part of our contract management processes.”

When asked for comment about the case, a Croma official replied: “No comment.”

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