RMT CLEANERS and maintenance staff working on Merseyrail stations for contractor Lorne Stewart are to strike on Friday (June 12) in support of two long-standing colleagues and union activists sacked on trumped-up charges.
The two, with some 70 years’ service between them, were dismissed for allegedly claiming pay for hours not worked, despite the lack of any credible evidence to support the charge.
The sacked cleaners are the latest in a long list of victims of disciplinary action aimed almost exclusively at RMT members in what the union believes is a crude attempt to weaken and marginalise the union.
Particular targets have been workers who retain cherished British Rail ‘Blue Book’ working conditions, regarded as too expensive by the employer.
RMT members voted for strike action to defend their colleagues in the face of management intimidation that included RMT members being taken aside individually by two managers and being ‘advised’ to vote against taking action.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Despite blatant intimidation our members have stood up for their sacked colleagues and given a clear message to Lorne Stewart that these sackings are unfair and unacceptable.
“It is time for Lorne Stewart to step back from the brink, recognise the anger of our members over these sackings and re-instate two loyal workers who have done nothing wrong.
“Merseyrail and Merseytravel also have a moral responsibility to ensure that their contractors do not behave like 19th-century mill-owners, and they should be making it quite clear that they will not allow their own reputations to be tarnished by these bully-boy tactics.
“There is something drastically wrong when a company admits to having put more than a third of its workforce on disciplinary charges in the last year or two – and the only sackings have been of RMT members.
“Lorne Stewart bosses trawled Merseyrail’s CCTV after an alleged anonymous tip-off from a sub-contractor, but the only evidence offered against our members was footage of them entering and leaving a building that is part of their normal workplace during their normal working hours.
“We asked the company to hold a director’s review of this travesty – but astonishingly that was held behind closed doors with no union involvement and it simply rubber-stamped the sackings.”
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