STAFF on ScotRail trains have voted in favour of strike action over the sacking of a ticket collector, it was confirmed yesterday.
• RMT union voted in favour by 548 to 264 to strike, and 666-143 for action short of a strike
• ScotRail called the decision ‘deeply disappointing’ and said only 24 per cent backed walkouts
• Ticket examiner Scott Lewis was dismissed for allegedly making ‘unwanted contact’ with a passenger over the type of ticket they wanted
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union voted by 548 to 264 to strike, with 666 to 143 voting in favour of action short of a strike.
Last night ScotRail described the decision as “deeply disappointing” and said it would run as many trains as possible in the event of any strike. It operated 95 per cent of services during a previous RMT strike in 2010.
The union has yet to announce the date for the walkout.
The RMT would have to give one week’s notice of a strike, so any stoppage would not be held before next Thursday.
The union described the result as “overwhelming” in its campaign for the reinstatement of Scott Lewis, a ticket collector dismissed after allegedly making “unwanted contact” with a passenger over the type of ticket
Sources said Mr Lewis refused to believe a passenger claiming a ScotRail journey offer.
The RMT said the ballot had been staged over the “victimisation and dismissal of a member whose only ‘crime’ was to assist a member of the public in ensuring they had the correct ticket for a journey”.
A spokesman said: “RMT is demanding the immediate
reinstatement of Scott Lewis in the light of this ballot mandate for action by the union’s ScotRail members in his defence.
“The next phase of the
campaign will now be considered by RMT’s executive.”
“Mr Lewis was adhering to the company’s own procedure in
assisting the passenger and operating the policy in event of non-payment of a correct fare.
“Management claim that he put the passenger in a state of alarm, but in reality Mr Lewis was just ensuring he had the
correct ticket, which is what he is employed to do.”
RMT general-secretary Bob Crow said: “Scott Lewis has been victimised and sacked for trying to help a passenger within the written procedures set out in ScotRail’s own policies in what is an absolute travesty of justice.
“RMT members will not sit back and watch while their colleagues are picked off in this fashion by a management who think that they can fire staff without a single shred of evidence to support their case, and that is why they have delivered this overwhelming mandate for action in this ballot.”
The incident is believed to have involved a passenger seeking to use a travel offer to Prestwick airport station in Ayrshire.
A ScotRail spokesman said: “CCTV images underpin the dismissal on grounds of intimidating and aggressive behaviour towards a passenger, who was reduced to tears during the
incident. If anyone believes such conduct towards a customer is acceptable, then they are in the wrong job.”