ASLEF to ballot Scots over demoted driver

18 January 2012

ASLEF has given notice to Scotrail that it intends to ballot its 1,100 members working for the company seeking their support for industrial action because of disciplinary measures taken against a member who was absent from work for a single day.

The driver was discovered to have reported in sick when he was abroad at a football match. As a result his employer, Scotrail, has taken him off the footplate and demoted him – reducing his salary by almost £20,000.

Mick Whelan, the general secretary of ASLEF the train drivers’ union, has reacted sharply to the hostility of some Scottish media about union support for a driver disciplined for a day’s unauthorised absence from work.

‘This is completely unjust,’ he says. ‘It means that this driver will be fined almost £20,000 for each year he remains working for the company. As he is 47, this means over £300,000 – and because it affects his pension it will go on beyond his working life.

‘Compare this to the case in Suffolk where the driver of an uninsured car was fined £265 after killing a 15-year-old-girl – or the speeding taxi driver in Manchester fined £250 after killing a 20-year-old student.

‘There’s a maximum fine of £2,500 for cycling dangerously, even when that has killed. If he is found guilty, super-rich footballer John Terry’s maximum fine for a racially aggravated public order offence is £2,500.

‘Compared with these cases, this punishment for one unwise ‘sickie’ in 21 years of working on the railway is deeply, deeply unfair.

‘That is why the driver has the full backing of ASLEF.’

The result of the industrial action ballot will be announced on 16 February.

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