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Train conductors balloted over sick worker's harassment

by Conrad Landin

TRAIN conductors are being balloted for strike action after “one of the worst abuses of sickness policies in recent years,” rail union RMT said yesterday.

The ballot among Northern Rail on-board staff based in Wigan follows bosses’ repeated refusal to accept the health circumstances of one worker, according to the union.

The staff member was signed-off sick under established procedures but then was aggressively harassed by managers for not being at work.

Bosses have become even more hostile after RMT declared a dispute over the issue, with “threatening” letters sent to workers urging them to ignore the union’s advice.

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “This case, indicative of the bullying culture within Northern Rail, is one of the worst abuses of sickness policies and procedures that RMT has come across in recent years.

“Those responsible for a concerted effort to force this individual member of staff out of the company should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

“RMT will not tolerate the employers treating their duty of care to staff like it is some kind of a joke.”

A Northern Rail spokeswoman claimed that “the RMT’s justification for the ballot is unsurprisingly misleading.”

Mr Cash warned the problem was widespread, saying union reps across Britain had received “increasing levels” of complaints about sickness procedure abuses.

He urged for meetings with management to resolve the dispute and prevent future abuses.

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