DEFEND Phil Tepper – Safety Rep

Fujitsu has charged Phil Tepper, a well-respected UNITE Rep, with gross misconduct – a charge that could result in instant dismissal at his hearing which is scheduled for Friday.
The charge entirely arises from his work as a safety rep, investigating complaints of work-related stress raised by members. This victimisation threatens the ability of any rep to deal with any issue on behalf of any employee.
UNITE is mounting a vigorous campaign to defend Phil, and has issued the newsletter below. Please take a few minutes to read it, especially the section at the end which suggests how you can show your support.
Defend Phil Tepper
UNITE Safety and Workplace Rep Phil Tepper has been charged with gross misconduct and urgently needs your support. A charge of gross misconduct can, and sometimes does, result in instant dismissal.
The charge entirely arises from his work as a safety rep, investigating complaints of work-related stress raised by members. This victimisation threatens the ability of any rep to deal with any issue on behalf of any employee.
Phil has over 40 years unblemished service with Fujitsu, and has been a highly regarded workplace rep and safety rep working on behalf of employees for well over a decade. The company has made groundless allegations against him despite knowing that Phil is currently undergoing cancer treatment, showing no regard for the adverse impact the stress they are causing could have on his illness.
The background
Two members in a department of about 30 people had complained of work-related stress and suffered long periods of sickness absence. The Health & Safety Executive has “Management Standards for work related stress” and provides a set of tools for measuring and identifying the root causes of work-related stress. These include an “indicator tool”, which is basically an anonymous survey.
Fujitsu’s own guidelines on stress refer to the management standards, though UNITE is not aware of the company carrying out stress risk assessments (as it should under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations) to protect staff, either generally or in this case.
Reps supplemented the survey with four additional questions and agreed that Phil should send it out on behalf of your Safety Reps. Phil sent it out to all the team, including the managers. Phil, UNITE, and the survey did not make any allegations or accusations, target or exclude anyone, or ask anyone to do anything other than return the survey and encourage others to do likewise. Phil pointed out that if team members felt there were no problems, the survey would show that.
You can see the original HSE indicator tool, the version Phil sent out and the covering note for yourself.
One of the team members who had raised a complaint about stress and bullying has recently been charged with gross misconduct on unrelated grounds and summarily dismissed. Reps believe this decision is grossly unfair and he is appealing against it with UNITE’s support.
The allegations
When the survey went out (on Friday 11th March), a number of employees responded to Phil, who replied politely and professionally in each case. Phil then received an email from a senior individual in HR warning of “potential serious adverse consequences for you personally and Unite generally”, but giving no indication of what the company thought Phil had done wrong.
UNITE tried to defuse the situation with a letter on 16th March pointing out that Phil was acting entirely in accordance with his role under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, Regulation 4, “to investigate complaints by any employee he represents relating to that employee’s health, safety and welfare at work”, but nonetheless offering an apology if anyone had taken offence.
On Friday 25th March the company sent Phil, who was on annual leave, an invitation to a disciplinary hearing with a charge of gross misconduct. The central allegation is that Phil issued the survey “with the intention of inciting a campaign of bullying, harassment and victimisation” against one particular manager, though no evidence has been provided of any such campaign or of any such intention.
It is extraordinary that the company has allowed the process to go this far and ignored its own formal procedures. Normally if anyone makes an allegation of bullying and harassment, there is an independent investigation report and disciplinary procedures would not be instigated without there being evidence to support the allegations.
Worryingly, the decision to discipline Phil has been taken at the highest levels in the company, so it would be foolish to rely on the process ahead being any fairer than it has been so far. We therefore need a powerful campaign to defend Phil, in addition to ensuring a robust defence for him in his hearing.

UNITE’s Response
UNITE has asked the company to discuss ways of defusing the situation, and suggested involving ACAS. But with Phil’s hearing currently scheduled for Friday, which could result in instant dismissal, the union has no choice but to mount a vigorous and urgent campaign in his defence.
What YOU can do now

  1. Sign the “Defend Phil Tepper” petition, encourage your colleagues to do so, and return it as soon as possible. UNITE will be collecting signatures in the Central Park canteens this week – please help if you can.
  2. If you can get a break at that time, protest outside the start of Phil’s disciplinary hearing if it goes ahead on Friday 1st April at 2pm. Gather outside 35GCR1 at 1:55pm.
  3. Join the “Defend Phil Tepper” rally, 8am Friday 1st April, outside the front of Central Park, Northampton Road, Manchester, M40 5BP.
  4. If you have dealt with Phil, whether through work or the union, could you provide a short statement of his good character to help counter the allegation that he would “incite a campaign of bullying”? If so, please send it to us.
  5. UNITE is making preparations for an industrial action ballot, in case the company goes ahead with victimising Phil. Key to this is verifying the details of every member. You will receive an email in the near future asking you to check and confirm or correct your details – please respond to it straight away.
  6. If you live in Manchester, please contact your local councillor to ask for their support. The council’s Environmental Health Department is the enforcing authority for safety at Central Park. You can use this email to brief them.
  7. Use this email and ask your MP, family, friends and relevant organisations to protest to Roger Gilbert, the Chief Executive and Ella Bennett, the HR Director. Roger can be contacted at or at Fujitsu, 22 Baker Street, London, W1U 3BW. Ella can be contacted at or the same postal address.
  8. Pass this newsletter on to a few colleagues who you think might be interested.

Please keep your eyes peeled for further updates.

Posted in news
'Fujitsu Whistleblower' hotline. Concerned about unethical or illegal practices? Contact the hotline on 0800 852 7479 or It is run by Unite the Union and your identity will be kept strictly confidential. Don't let Fujitsu silence whistleblowers.

Unite members working for Fujitsu Services Limited in the Manchester bargaining unit have taken 32 strike days over compulsory redundancies, victimisation of reps and breaches of agreements. This follows 27 previous days of strike action.

Industrial action is currently suspended but the fight continues.

Further information is available here including a downloadable appeal for support leaflet and how to donate to our strike fund.

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