IHUG Brothers Cowboys In Workplace - SFWU
IHUG’S Wood Brothers Cowboys When It Comes To Workplace Relations Says SFWU
“Recent positive publicity surrounding Tim and Nick Wood’s wealth and dominance as successful business entrepreneurs due to the success of their internet company IHUG failed to dig deeper into the ‘cowboy culture’ of their workplace”, said Darien Fenton, National Secretary of the Service & Food Workers Union.
While assisting workers with contract related issues at IHUG, the SFWU found rules pertaining to staff were made up as they went along and changed to suit the circumstances on the day.
Two helpdesk workers and union delegates, Nigel Howe and Stephen Miles, were sacked when IHUG distributed individual employment contracts and asked their staff to sign it. These workers had no formal contract and had been requesting a wage review and a written contract for a number of months. The workers responded by discussing with each other what they wanted in the contract and some of this discussion involved email correspondence. Nigel and Stephen wrote private emails from their home computers criticising the contract offer. These emails, which contained expletives, were given to IHUG and the delegates were sacked on the premise that the language used was unprofessional and inappropriate.
The Employment Court’s Judge Travis subsequently granted an interim reinstatement injunction whereby Nigel and Stephen were put back on IHUG’s payroll until the case can be heard in the Employment Tribunal later this year.
“These are young workers who are often in their first job and simply wanted to know what their rights were and have their voice heard in their workplace”, said Ms Fenton.
“Nigel and Stephen did nothing wrong in trying to organise a collective response to the contract offer using the language, means and style of communication common in the workplace.”
“It seemed that IHUG found it unacceptable that workers could question their management practice.”
“We see a worrying trend emerging in employment relations within the Information Technology field”, said Ms Fenton.
“These workplaces are the sweatshops of the 90’s, with staff working long hours in crowded conditions for wages that don’t respect their skill level”. “The Employment Court judgement is a victory for these workers.”