To All Great Western Railway Members
Our Ref: BR2/4/12
25th October 2018
SUSPENSION FROM DUTY, B. FREDERICK, TRAIN MANAGER – GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY
I have received the following resolution from our Paddington No 1 Branch with regards to the above matter:
“This RMT Paddington No.1 branch deplores the decision of Great Western Railway (GWR) to suspend our member Ben Frederick from duty pending investigation of a vexatious allegation against him of assault.
Bro’ Frederick was assaulted on duty at Evesham station by a member of the public when working his train as a Guard (Train Manager) on Saturday 11 August 2018. Bro’ Frederick reported the assault on him to his employer (GWR Duty Control) and to the British Transport Police on the same day. He was told that BTP would contact him to take a statement. He has never been contacted by BTP about his assault.
5 September 2018 Bro’ Frederick was suspended from duty by his employer pending investigation of an allegation that he had assaulted a member of the public on 11 August. He has been suspended for over a month in breach of GWR’s own guidelines and agreement with this union that investigatory suspensions of staff should not exceed 28 days.
Earlier this month when interviewed by an investigating manager he was shown CCTV footage, which clearly shows the member of the public assaulting him by spitting at him and hitting him with a mobile phone. Bro’ Frederick was also verbally abused by the same person using racist insults. No complaint against Bro’ Frederick has been received by GWR from the member of the public and it appears that the employer has instigated the current investigation and suspension of our member.
This branch believes that GWR is failing to protect our members who are in the frontline of dealing with often abusive member of the public. We believe that GWR is abusing its own investigatory suspension policy. We note that Bro’ Frederick is a Health & Safety Representative for train managers at Paddington depot and a stalwart member of this union. We call on the NEC to ensure that Bro’ Frederick is given all legal and Industrial support to ensure he is reinstated without further delay.”
Your union’s National Executive Committee has recently considered the matter and note with grave concerns the sentiments contained within the resolution.
The RMT deplores the response from GWR following a member of the public racially abusing and physically assaulting Brother Frederick by spitting at him and hitting him repeatedly with a mobile phone, whilst he was carrying out his duties.
Instead of management fulfilling their duty to protect a member of frontline staff who found himself in a dangerous conflict situation, GWR levelled gross misconduct charges against Brother Frederick.
The Executive Committee has taken the decision to ballot all our GWR Guard and Driver members located at Paddington Depot for strike action and action short of a strike, unless Brother Frederick is immediately reinstated to his substantive role at his Disciplinary Hearing on Friday 26th October 2018.
Furthermore, I have written to GWR demanding that the scapegoating of frontline staff ends immediately and that management give a commitment to the RMT that our members who suffer abuse and assaults from members of the public are totally protected.
I will, of course, keep you fully advised on any further developments.