Durham Cathedral bookshop staff launch legal fight
CATHEDRAL bosses could become embroiled in a complex legal fight after bookshop staff launched tribunal proceedings.
Six workers at Durham Cathedral’s bookshop are seeking compensation after their employment was allegedly terminated when the shop unexpectedly closed on January 22 this year.
But confusion has arisen over who is potentially liable for any payouts and proceedings have been listed against several different companies, including the cathedral’s trading arm, Durham Cathedral Trading Ltd.
A pre-hearing review held in Newcastle heard how Joan Cummins, Lyn Yard, Carol Ross, Susan Bolam, Elizabeth Towns and Eleanor Jones , are now all employed by Durham Cathedral Trading Ltd, which has taken over the management of the shop.
But questions have been raised about who was responsible for the staff when the shop closed and in the period until it reopened, five weeks later, on March 1.
The hearing, at Quayside House, heard how one of the six claimants, Ms Cummins, is continuing to pursue damages from Durham Cathedral Trading Ltd, but claims lodged by the other five employees have since been withdrawn against the Cathedral.
Other companies listed as potentially liable employers at the time the shop closed are St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSG) and Durham Cathedral Shop Management Company. Those companies were run by American brothers Philip and Mark Brewer, who took over a number of cathedral bookshops from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), in November 2006.
Staff and managers walked out over changes to their contracts in which they were asked to work on Sundays and perform cleaning duties. And in April 2008, the Charity Commission took over the running of the shops because of concerns over how they were being run.