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Council managers seek appeal after racism claim defeat

SUPPORTER: Desmond Jaddoo is supporting the case of six employees

SIX BLACK staff at Birmingham City Council’s housing department are considering appealing after an employment tribunal judge ruled they were not victims of racial discrimination.

They are taking fresh legal advice with support from the political lobby group Birmingham Empowerment Forum (BEF) after losing their case to the city council on Friday.

In May 2011, the city council restructured its Neighbourhood Offices, reducing 11 managerial posts down to five. Of the 11 managers, three were from an African Caribbean background, three were Asian and five were white. All were interviewed for the five positions, but they all went to white staff.

The council’s defence was incompetence, rather than racial discrimination but this is being challenged by Desmond Jaddoo, founder of BEF, who has been following the case.

He said: “The fact that incompetence is their defence is an indictment in itself as its shows, in my view, that managers don’t know how to manage diversity and multi-culturism.

“And it’s strange that anytime incompetence is mentioned, it seems to affect BME communities for than any other.”

When the six staff first complained about the situation in 2011, the council agreed to re-run the interviews and two black managers were appointed. Two white staff then complained and are now pursuing this in another separate case.

Jaddoo claims the council failed to follow procedures properly, saying that it took council staff 11 months to return a race questionnaire – an official document required for the tribunal to continue, when it should have been returned within six weeks.

But in a statement Birmingham City Council said: “The city council has vigorously defended the allegations of race discrimination from the outset and we are extremely pleased that the employment tribunal appears to have concurred with our own two-stage internal process in finding that the claimants’ race and/or ethnicity played no part in the events giving rise to this claim.

“We are delighted with the outcome and that the unfounded allegations in the case appear not to have been upheld. The city council will need to review the judgement in detail and to determine in due course whether it intends to take any further action.

“Notwithstanding this, the claimants remain employees of the city council as we hope that a line can now be drawn under these events for all involved.”

Jaddoo added: “When it come to compulsory redundancies, for every one white person made redundant, 2.8 African Caribbeans lose their jobs.

“This is a pretty damning ratio.

“In January this year I asked Birmingham City Council’s deputy leader Councillor Ian Ward in open council what he would do about council managers who are incompetent.

“He said he would discipline them with a view to sacking them. I feel this case is a hollow victory for the council because these tribunals are costing taxpayers thousands of pounds in very austere times.

“The six staff involved now fear for their jobs as more cuts are on the way within the council.”

He added that in such a highly diverse city as Birmingham, which boasts more than 180 different nationalities among its citizens, only two senior council managers at director level were from a BME background.

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