Chorley Council has lost its latest appeal against a tribunal decision’s following the dismissal of a veteran worker.
Former markets manager Wayne Andrews, 45, who had worked for the council for more than 20 years, was a long-term union member.
Last year, an employment tribunal supported his case for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.
A panel who heard the case in Manchester ruled unanimously that Mr Andrews had effectively been sacked because of his Unison role.
It was reported that Mr Andrews won £30,000 - although this has not yet been confirmed.
Now the council has lost its latest and final appeal against the decision at a hearing in London. The Guardian has found out that the council has run up legal costs of £19,000 in fighting the case.
Chief executive Gary Hall said the council hadn’t taken the decision to appeal lightly and was extremely disappointed with the outcome – the first tribunal hearing to rule against the council.
He added: “We are always looking at ways of providing services more efficiently to offer better value for money and whenever we have a restructure there is a set procedure we follow to ensure everyone is treated fairly.
“Over the last five years the council has reduced the workforce significantly while at the same time improving services and this is the first time a tribunal has been determined against the council.
“The council didn’t agree with this particular judgement and was satisfied it was appropriate to appeal because the council wanted to reduce the cost of Mr Andrews’ claim to council taxpayers.
“Chorley Market has gone from strength to strength since we changed the way that it is run. We maintain that this was the right thing to do and we have seen record days over the summer.”
Mr Andrews was supported by the union Unison and their vice president Maureen Le Marinel blasted the council’s actions.
She said: “The council should never have dismissed Wayne Andrews in the first place. “They will argue they did not dismiss him for his trade union duties but the tribunal was very critical.
“The £19,000 they spent fighting this could have employed someone for a year.
“This has been hanging over Wayne. To lose your job at a time when everyone is tightening their belts means it was a traumatic time for Wayne and his family.”