CAB volunteers 'sacked' after party alcohol row

Two East Staffordshire volunteers told not to return

A clarification was added at the foot of this story on 1 April 2009.

Two volunteer advisers have been asked to leave East Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau after an argument over serving alcohol at a Christmas party.

Sue Blamire and Chris Tyler were this month told not to return to the bureau after a disagreement over arrangements for the staff event, which they had been organising.

The row started after a Muslim employee objected to alcohol being available at the function, saying this meant she would be prevented from attending on religious grounds.

The disagreement led to management at the bureau investigating the behaviour of the pair, who between them had completed more than six years of service there. They were then told not to return.

Citizens Advice, the national body for CABs, confirmed it had sent a representative to look into the situation in February but declined to give details.

Blamire said the incident was a sign that volunteers were treated less favourably than permanent staff. She said the case against her and Tyler would not have stood up at an employment tribunal.

Dawn Trigg, manager at East Staffordshire CAB, said: "Following separate independent investigations into the behaviour of two volunteers, the same volunteers were separately asked to leave after behaviour and comments were found to be inappropriate and unacceptable in one case, and in breach of the bureau's dignity at work policy and data-protection rules in the other."

Last year, the 'sacking' of a volunteer adviser at York CAB led to about 30 colleagues walking out. An independent investigation that was carried out by the national body found there were governance failings. It led to the departure of the organisation's director and nine of its 10 trustees.

Clarification: Citizens Advice has asked us to make it clear that their investigation concluded that the employee mentioned in the story was not involved in the dispute in any way.

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