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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
'Wake-up call' to the City
City of London
Unions have been recruiting hard in the City
The court decision against Cantor Fitzgerald should be a wake-up call to the City to change its ways, says the man who represented bullied worker Steven Horkulak.

"The court has clearly indicated that enormous bonuses and high-pressure environments are no excuses for bullying or intimidator treatment," said James Libson.

"The City will have to take a good look at its practices and culture in the light of this decision."

As head of employment law at Mishcon de Reya, he says they have seen many allegations of bad behaviour and discrimination in the City.

"Most are settled before they get to court," he said.

He told BBC News Online that while there were many examples of good practice within the City, it sometimes saw itself as separate from other types of businesses, in a "different stratosphere" where the usual rules do not apply.

James Lisbon
People in the City are prepared to stick up for their rights without the fear they will never get another job
James Lisbon, lawyer

But things are changing.

Unions have started getting a toehold in the Square Mile, where SERTUC, the south east's TUC, began a recruitment drive last year.

A spokeswoman for Amicus, the largest private sector union, said its membership was growing and the sorts of "macho issues" that the Cantor case had highlighted were among major concerns.

Women particularly were joining after coming back from maternity leave to find they could not return to their old job or getting smaller bonuses than men.

"There are now thousands of individual members which is quite an achievement considering many are high earners who would not necessarily think of trade unions as appropriate," she said.

Sacked by PowerPoint

"Some of the situations people are facing are particularly horrendous, they have been sacked by email or PowerPoint presentation or are having to apply for their own jobs or face pretty humiliating or bullying situations."

Mr Libson said he thought there were likely to be a growing number of workers fighting back.

"I think the number of different cases in the past few years mean two things, " he said.

"First of all people in the City are prepared to stick up for their rights without the fear they will never get another job.

"Secondly it is encouragement for people within the City to take the HR process more seriously and make sure there is a valve with which the pressure can be released. These things should not get to court."


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