Our Ref: LUL/4/1
28th May 2021
TO ALL LONDON UNDERGROUND TRAIN OPERATORS AND OPERATOR INSTRUCTORS
BALLOT PAPERS TO BE SENT OUT TODAY
DO NOT WASTE YOUR VOTE – MAKE SURE YOU RETURN YOUR PAPER
VOTE ‘YES’ AND DEFEND UNFAIRLY DISMISSED MEMBER
DISMISSAL, GARY CARNEY, TRAIN OPERATOR – LONDON UNDERGROUND
I am writing further to my previous letter of 24th May 2021 and concerning an important matter with potential implications for all members employed by London Underground. The significance of the case warrants restating the facts of the matter in full. What is at stake is not only a colleague and representative, but the setting of a dangerous precedent which could tomorrow be employed by LUL to dismiss any member.
There has been a significant travesty of justice that has seen our Brother Gary Carney dismissed by London Underground for allegedly avoiding an unannounced D&A test. Members across the Central Line had earlier been balloted for strike action in defence of Brother Carney. The industrial action that had been planned for Thursday 6th May 2021 was suspended in good faith to allow talks to take place at the highest level between RMT and LUL. Unfortunately, the outcome has been that LUL have upheld the dismissal of Brother Carney.
For those members who are unfamiliar with the case, our local representative Brother Carney was taken physically ill on 10th July 2020, having only returned to work a few days previously, prior to this Gary had been shielding. After Brother Carney had been violently ill, he reported he was unfit for work.
LUL have focused on the dot and comma of the sickness absence policy without consideration for Gary’s wellbeing. Thinking of his own safety – as well as that of others – Brother Carney reported that he was unfit for work. As well as being unfit for work Brother Carney should not have come into contact with others. LUL have committed themselves to the view that despite his physical sickness he should have attended premises where colleagues were working for a D&A test after he had vomited and reported that he was unfit for work.
At the height of a pandemic of a highly infectious illness and having become physically ill with a clinically recognised symptom of Covid-19, Brother Carney left work and began a period of isolation owing to his being taken unwell. Covid-19 tests for both him and his family were arranged.
It is important to be very clear here. Brother Carney’s behaviour is not unreasonable, and he acted in the best interests of his own and the safety of others. Upon his return to work following his period of sickness absence he undertook a ‘for cause’ D&A test which showed a negative result.
The crux of the matter is that LUL are alleging that reporting his sickness before Brother Carney had been made aware of the unannounced D&A test is tantamount to avoidance of a D&A test. Gary did not avoid, refuse, nor fail a D&A test, and has not in his twenty years of service. As well as twenty years of unblemished service, Brother Carney has a young family and the consequent caring responsibilities that entails.
In addition to this, an investigating manager made an issue of Brother Carney being a trade union representative during the investigation. As an RMT local representative Brother Carney has selflessly committed himself to ensuring that members are supported and assisted at work. This is a legitimate and commendable activity – a view perhaps not shared by LUL management – but it should have no bearing on how an employee is treated. Members will be able to draw their own conclusions why all mitigation has been disregarded and management have sought to refer the case to CDI and then seek the most severe disciplinary outcome, rather than accept the circumstances for what they are: an employee taken violently ill at work without any prior knowledge of an unannounced D&A test.
LUL Trains representatives have met to consider the matter and were unanimous in requesting that a ballot is undertaken of all LUL Train Op members to seek Brother Carney’s immediate reinstatement to his substantive role as a Train Operator. The determination to correct this injustice was made very clear.
Your National Executive Committee has considered the matter and noted that having suspended strike action on the Central Line to allow for a further meeting into this case to take place, LUL have upheld the dismissal rather than resolve the issue and remedy the obvious injustice.
Your NEC has instructed that a fresh ballot is conducted of all LUL Train Operating members. Formal notice of this ballot has already been served on the company and voting papers will be sent to members’ home addresses by independent Scrutineer Civica from today, Friday 28th May 2021 and the ballot will close on Tuesday 29th June 2021.
Members are urged to send London Underground a clear message that we will not tolerate this appalling treatment of our representative and that they immediately reverse their decision! Brother Carney’s treatment could set a dangerous precedent that tomorrow could be applied to any member taken ill and reporting unfit for duty. This is completely unreasonable and should not be allowed to happen.
I urge you all to use your vote. Vote 'Yes’ for strike action to force management to reinstate your representative who has been unfairly dismissed.
SUPPORT YOUR REP – UNITY IS STRENGTH
VOTE 'YES' FOR STRIKE ACTION
I will keep members informed of all further developments.