Unions describe letter as insulting, disgusting and insensitive

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, ASLEF, RMT,

Abellio ScotrailRail unions have demanded train company Abellio Scotrail apologise to job applicants after sending them a condescending rejection letter.

The letters, sent out to thousands of unsuccessful internal and external candidates for trainee driver posts, have been branded by ASLEF as “disgusting and insulting” and by the RMT as  “kick in the teeth” and “an exercise in treating people like idiots.”

ASLEF’s Scotland organsier Kevin Lindsay said: “This email is as extraordinary as it is insensitive. The fact that senior executives in the recruitment team at Abellio ScotRail think this sort of attitude, and behaviour, is acceptable boggles the mind.

“And it’s exactly this sort of bullying and dismissive attitude which has led to staff morale plummeting. Abellio needs to explain why they think this is the sort of email to send to loyal, hard-working staff whose application to become a driver has been unsuccessful.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “In my thirty years as a trade union official I have never seen a letter so bluntly designed as a wholesale kick in the teeth for an unsuccessful job applicant and which is so clearly engineered to undermine an individual’s self-esteem. The fact that this letter went out to over 20,000 people speaks volumes about how Abellio values both its own workforce and those who are seeking to join it.

“The points about ‘understanding the job’  and ‘underestimating responsibilities’ are an exercise in treating both the internal and external applicants as a bunch of idiots and Abellio should be ashamed of themselves and should be apologising to each and every one of the 20,000 people who had this insulting communication delivered through their post box.

“Yes, these are decent jobs on good pay and conditions thanks to strong trade union organisation and the volume of applicants reflects that but those who have taken the time and trouble to apply should be treated with respect not contempt.

“It is maybe no surprise that Abellio are one of those companies acting as cheerleaders for the government’s new raft of anti-trade union laws. It’s about time the Scottish government woke up to the union-busting and anti-worker nature of the outfit they awarded the Scotrail contract and started taking some notice of what they are up to.”

The letter states:

Train driving is a very demanding role which requires a certain type of person.  It is a role which can be rewarding as well as unforgiving. It also comes with a very good pay package. This makes it very important to look at applications in great detail.

Having reviewed your application(s), I would recommend you read over it and ask yourself the following questions:

– Have I communicated that I understand what it takes to be a train driver, but also that I have the transferable skills?

– Have I demonstrated my enthusiasm, determination and commitment to this role?

– Have I shown that I have put a great deal of thought into this application and given the reader the opportunity to learn about me?

– Does my application demonstrate / reflect the amount of effort I have made to prepare for this role?

For this recruitment campaign, we received over 1,130 internal applications as well as the thousands we receive from external candidates.  All internal applications were reviewed by a panel of Driver Managers and compared in terms of their presentation, content, quality and responses to the questions.

The application form is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your desire to be successful in becoming a train driver. In this respect, your application was not considered to be of the high standard that we require in terms of either:

– The content of the application form was below the general standard.

– Transferable key skills and abilities were not identified.  The form did not clearly demonstrate your understanding of the train driver role or the transferable skills that are required.

“The panel felt that the content and/or the transferable skills mentioned in the application form did not fully demonstrate the level of commitment or suitability to this role.

Should you wish to apply in the future, I suggest the following:

– Start by researching the role of driver, gain an understanding of the skills and qualities required and clearly identify how you match these. 

– Consider the effort you put into the process and how much you want the role.

– Don’t underestimate the role or its responsibilities.

– Where the application form asks for information, ensure that you respond to the question appropriately and directly.

I wish you every success in the future.

Kind Regards,

Recruitment Team

Abellio ScotRail


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
Author avatar

Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

Read All Articles