RMT presses ahead with strike ballot after internal appeal confirms rep’s job loss

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The RMT has condemned an internal appeal hearing outcome at Wightlink Ferries which has confirmed the sacking of union rep Paul Kelly “ as a flagrant attack on trade union organisation on deliberately trumped up charges that the union will continue to fight every step of the way.”

The union also confirmed today that it is pressing on with the ballot for strike action and action short of a strike all members on Wightlink’s Portsmouth routes over the victimisation and unfair dismissal of Paul Kelly and has submitted an application for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal on the grounds of trade union activities.

At the appeal hearing the company produced video evidence which they claimed showed Paul swinging on the mezzanine deck of a ferry even though in truth it did not show that he left the ground and only had his hands placed on the edge of the upper deck. It also took the company days after the original dismissal to produce the wholly inconclusive CCTV “evidence” which they had clearly been trawling for in an effort to justify their original sacking decision.

In fact, Paul Kelly was dismissed by the company on blatant and trumped up charges when his only real crime was actively supporting his members and following the democratically agreed policies of the union. An initially reasonable response to a minor incident, with informal advice accepted by all involved, was suddenly escalated into an all out attack on Paul resulting in his victimisation and unfair dismissal and the production of bogus and inconclusive additional “evidence” after the event to try and fit the alleged crime.

RMT is firmly of the view that the real reason for Paul’s dismissal is that he has been instrumental in leading a union campaign against the imposition of new rosters and highlighting management deficiencies which had led to the intervention of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on the grounds of safety.

General secretary Bob Crow said: “Yesterday’s internal appeal decision is a travesty of justice based on bogus and trumped up evidence and we will press on with the ballot for action and the application to the Employment Tribunal.

“Paul Kelly’s case is one of the most blatant examples of victimisation for union activities you will ever come across. Once again RMT finds itself having to defend an elected and accredited union representative, whose only real crime is to continually defend the members he represents, regularly challenging the company and ensuring all agreements are followed correctly.

“RMT remains available for talks and we will pursue all channels to obtain justice in Paul Kelly’s case.”


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