Our Ref: BR2/4/1
29th August 2019
DISMISSAL, REBECCA HUGHES, TRAIN MANAGER, HOLYHEAD
VIRGIN WEST COAST
Further to my previous letter you will all be aware of the appalling case of your fellow Train Manager Rebecca Hughes who has been dismissed by Virgin West Coast. Ballot papers were due to be sent out today but instead of trying to resolve this matter Virgin have spent their time and money running to expensive lawyers who have sent a legal challenge to our ballot.
In order to conduct a ballot we have to send the company formal notice of the ballot timetable which includes a sample ballot paper. Since the 2016 Trade Union Act came into force the ballot paper is required to include a summary of the issues on the ballot paper which their lawyers have challenged. Having consulted with our own solicitors we have decided to amend the ballot paper and serve fresh notice on the company with an amended summary of the trade dispute so you are clear what issues remain unresolved in this dispute. This will only delay the ballot for a week so this closing date is now Thursday 19th September 2019.
As the trade dispute summary makes clear Sister Hughes was sacked for refusing to allow a passenger to board the train who, in a previous incident in March, had been intimidating and aggressive towards her and a catering member of staff. This passenger is well known to staff and previously posted edited video clips onto social media giving what many consider to be highly selective and inaccurate view of what actually occurred.
On the day in question the journey from Euston had already been challenging for Rebecca to say the least. The setup was 5 car instead of 10 car, two disabled passengers were on board who required a high level of support, one of which had welfare issues which needed addressing repeatedly. On the basis of the previous difficulties Rebecca and other staff have had with this passenger, as well as the highly challenging circumstances she had already experienced throughout the journey, Rebecca decided she would not let the passenger board the train. At that point Rebecca’s fears were realised and yet again the passenger became abusive and her companion started to filming the incident which ended up on social media in a matter of hours.
Instead of supporting their long standing employee Virgin has sacked her without, in our view, properly considering all the circumstances and the highly challenging situation on that day. What happened to Sister Hughes could happen to anyone and this frankly appalling decision must not be allowed to stand. Voting papers will be sent out from Thursday 5th September where you will be asked to vote for strike action and industrial action short of a strike. It is vitally important that we get a high turnout in this ballot and I urge all Train Managers to return a massive vote in favour of action. We must send a clear message to Virgin that they must reverse Rebecca’s disgraceful dismissal now!
SUPPORT YOUR COLLEAGUE
VOTE ‘YES” FOR INDUSTRIAL ACTION
REMEMBER, IT COULD BE YOU NEXT!