Passengers face strike action over sacking row

Blackpool North Rail Station, Blackpool.
Blackpool North Rail Station, Blackpool.
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Train passengers look set to be faced with a picket line when they use Blackpool North station this weekend following a row over the sacking of a railway worker.

Around 80 members of the RMT transport union are to stage a 48-hour strike in support of colleague Chad Vickers who they say has been unfairly dismissed.

Sacked Blackpool North station worker Chad Vickers

Sacked Blackpool North station worker Chad Vickers

He was dismissed by Northern Rail after a disciplinary process following an incident that was alleged to have taken place some months ago and which was reported to police.

The union has said his sacking was unjustified and members asked for a ballot over the affair which resulted in an 85 per cent support for industrial action.

The strike is due to start after midnight on Friday, running until midnight on Sunday.

Union members will be staging a picket line at the rear car park of the station between 5 and 8am, and a demonstration at the front between 10am and 1pm.

This action has not been put on lightly, but is the last resort in our efforts in making management sit up and take notice of anger amongst his fellow workers over Chad’s disgraceful dismissal

But train company Northern Rail has said any action will not affect scheduled services as they have put plans in place to cope with any staff not turning up for work.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This action has not been put on lightly, but is the last resort in our efforts in making management sit up and take notice of anger amongst his fellow workers over Chad’s disgraceful dismissal.

“There is no compelling CCTV evidence, the police found no forensic evidence and management could come up with very little in anecdotal evidence to support their decision to dismiss Chad.

“That is why RMT is urging members to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with their sacked colleague and support strike action this weekend. The union remains available for talks.”

According to the union, Mr Vickers was dismissed “with little regard for due process, evidence or natural justice”.

It said allegations made against him were passed to British Transport Police, who found no evidence to support them.

Mr Vickers, 23, a former pupil of Millfield High School in Thornton, who currently lives in Preston, was not available for comment today but on his Facebook site he thanked fellow RMT members for their support.

He said: “The harsh reality is they have sacked me on no grounds basically I’ve had six months from hell.”

RMT regional organiser Daren Ireland said: “We conducted a ballot following a request from our members in Blackpool.

“The strength of the ballot, with 85 per cent support, shows the strength of feeling at Blackpool over this.

Asked if the union was concerned that its action might disrupt Blackpool’s illuminations visitors, he said the union had been forced to take this action by the train company.

He said: “We are fighting to get Chad his job back. Northern Rail are causing this disruption. We are available for talks however, if the company so desires.

“Our member was unfairly dismissed. The company alleged that something had been tampered with and the police were called in, but there was no evidence and the police took it no further. It is totally unjustified.”

Adrian Thompson, HR Director for Northern Rail said: “We are disappointed that RMT Northern members in Blackpool have voted in favour of taking industrial action. We never rush to dismiss our staff.

“Dismissal is always a last resort and we are confident that this dismissal was fair.

“Thankfully, we have a strong contingency plan in place for this weekend to allow us to operate a full service as normal for our customers.”