Up to 100 outsourced workers on Virgin Trains East Coast are to begin balloting for strikes this week over the sacking of their RMT union rep.
Alex Ajufo has worked for seven years as a tanker at King’s Cross railway station in London.
Tankers fill up trains with fresh water supplies and have some cleaning responsibilities.
Outsourcing giant ISS holds the cleaning contract on Virgin’s East Coat mainline service.
Alex was suspended last October after bosses said he was late retrieving a water pipe from a train—something no tanker has been sacked for before.
He was then dismissed on 7 December last year.
Alex told Socialist Worker that his dismissal was “disproportionate”. “The bosses could have given me a warning because it’s something that happens to everyone,” he said.
“They’re trying to sack people without due process.”
Alex has been an RMT rep for five years, and believes his shock dismissal is related to his trade union activism. “The management are angry at me because I speak my mind,” he said.
“When I joined the company no one was in the union and I recruited 70 percent of our members.”
Alex also thinks his treatment is related to cuts that bosses are trying to make to the service.
“They are trying to cut thousands of pounds from the budget,” he said. “They want to get rid of 38 of us.
“But I spoke up and said, ‘Why do you want to reduce staff when the job isn’t going to reduce?’
“They are looking for ways to sack people. The same week I was suspended they sacked five people.
The ballot was set to start this Thursday.
All members should vote yes to defend Alex from greedy bosses.
Guards fight for safety and jobs
Guards on South Western Railway are striking to keep the guard on the train.
The RMT union members will walk out between Friday 16 and Monday 19 February.
Workers took action on six railway lines in January over the implementation of the driver only operation (DOO) trains.
DOO would make travel unsafe and inaccessible.
DLR workers strike
Workers on the Docklands Light Railways train line in London walked last Thursday and Friday.
It’s the latest wave of action in a dispute that has already seen two days of strikes last December.
Cleaners, security staff and travel safe officers, who are employed by contractor ISS, struck over a “comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations”.