Our Ref B/4/1
10 March 2021
TO ALL RMT MEMBERS AT BLUESTAR
DISMISSAL, DECLAN CLUNE - BLUESTAR
I write further to my letter of 17th February 2021 with regards to the case of your local representative Declan Clune, who had been suspended from duty.
Bluestar then dismissed Brother Clune alleging that by reporting his concerns around a bridge being struck by vehicles to Network Rail, who maintain the railway infrastructure, he brought the company into disrepute. This is a weak and unconvincing argument to make given the critical role of safety across the transport industry and the nature of Brother Clune’s action, which was to report his concerns over vehicle strikes to a bridge.
Network Rail state the possible harm in the following terms: “Bridge strike incidents can cause death or serious injury to road and rail users and have a serious impact on the operation of the railway, and road traffic.” If Declan had not made his concerns known there is the possibility of a tragedy occurring in the terms Network Rail describe. Where Brother Clune might have expected to have his vigilance recognised positively it has instead resulted in his dismissal.
The Southampton District Bus & Coach Branch has submitted a resolution for consideration by your National Executive Committee detailing the context of Declan’s dismissal. Brother Clune has played a leading role in developing the branch organisation and increasing the effectiveness of the union’s representation to the benefit of bus and coach staff. Declan has recently had a grievance against bullying and harassing behaviour towards him as a trade union representative upheld by a company director. Other trade union branch officials have also made grievances against Bluestar for the way they feel they been bullied and harassed because of their trade union activity. This is not the shared experience of our union’s representatives across the Go South Coast group but seems particular to Bluestar’s management.
The resolution also highlighted a deeply concerning attitude and culture that seems to exist within Bluestar management around Health & Safety of both staff and passengers. Management’s approach has been to exclude union Health & Safety Representatives from meetings and investigations, this includes the bridge strike reported by Brother Clune and an investigation into a “thermal incident” on a bus on another occasion.
Your NEC has considered the matter and noted the Southampton District Bus & Coach Branch’s resolution and the sentiments within. Brother Clune has an appeal hearing today where a decision is expected on whether he should have been dismissed for raising serious safety concerns. Should Declan’s appeal not be upheld, and he is not reinstated to his substantive duties, then your NEC have instructed that we enter into dispute with Bluestar and begin immediate preparations to undertake a ballot of members for industrial action. Your NEC have also instructed that Bluestar are made aware of the union’s intentions in this regard and I have written to them to stating this in no uncertain terms.
I trust this keeps you fully advised and I will update you on all further developments.