25 March 2021
RMT Press Office:
BUS UNION RMT confirmed today that it has declared a dispute and will be balloting bus driver members for strike and other forms of industrial action over the victimisation of Southampton bus branch secretary Declan Clune who has been dismissed for reporting concerns around a bridge being struck by vehicles to Network Rail.
The union will also be launching a high-profile publicity campaign in public and media forums including demonstrations in support of Declan’s reinstatement by the company.
At Declan's recent appeal hearing the company upheld their earlier decision of dismissal for bringing the company into disrepute. No evidence has been forthcoming to explain what the loud banging noise has been when buses have passed under the bridge in question. Bluestar, the employer, have denied that they failed to adhere to their own procedure and decided that Declan, in reporting the issue to Network Rail, could have influenced their opportunities for further business. The union says that this is total nonsense.
RMT's National Executive Committee has considered the matter and reaffirmed the union's commitment to supporting and campaigning for our Branch Secretaries reinstatement by Bluestar. The NEC has made clear that it considers this matter to be an attack on the foundation of our union structure and on our representatives who come forward to ensure members receive the best possible advice, support and help at work.
General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The victimisation and sacking of Declan Clune is a disgrace and Bluestar should reverse this decision. As workplace representatives selflessly come to the aid of members without a second thought it is every member's responsibility to come to theirs when attacked. That is why we have declared a dispute with Bluestar and are preparing a ballot for action.
"A Director's Review of the matter of the dismissal has now been granted and our officials will be putting a strong case for reinstatement and to right this wrong. The company should seize this opportunity to reinstate Declan rather than provoking an industrial dispute and action by our members.
“Our concerns over the reporting of safety issues will be raised with Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, Traffic Commissioner, HSE and relevant local authorities.
"The Southampton District Bus & Coach Branch is supported by the union in the campaign initiatives seeking Declan's reinstatement."