UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector trade union, has won a three year long battle for a permanent job, for a member who had been working in the same role for 10 years.

Margretta McCully, 41, from Ballymena in County Antrim, had been working as a prescribing support assistant at Northern Health and Social Services Board in Antrim since 1999. Three years ago she applied for a permanent contract, but was told there was no money to fund the post. Two further applications were turned down in 2007 and 2008, when UNISON got involved and started legal proceedings. The case has now been settled out of court, and Margretta now has a permanent contract.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said: “Margretta deserves a permanent job. She has been working as a prescribing support assistant, a job that she loves, for ten years by the time UNISON won her a permanent contract. It is totally unreasonable for employers to expect staff to put up with a decade of job insecurity, and UNISON are delighted with the results.”

Margretta McCuly, said: “I was determined to get a permanent job, because I knew I was entitled to it. And I needed some job security. I constantly faced the uncertainly of not knowing when my contract was going to come to an end. It made it really hard to plan getting a car, going on holiday, or moving house.

“My application was turned down three times, and without the help of UNISON I would not have been able to follow the case through. I really enjoy my job, so I’m delighted to be able to do it permanently.”

George Kilpatrick from Thompsons McClure, who took the case for UNISON, said: “The right to obtain permanent status is not widely known, but this case shows that workers, with the assistance of their union and specialist legal services, can enforce these rights successfully, even against an intransigent employer.

“We hope Mrs McCully’s case will encourage other workers on fixed term contracts to consider seeking permanent status, if they have been employed for four years or longer.”