Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy

On top of financial hardship faced by all, Virgin Trains workers also have to worry about the Richard Branson’s insidious ‘fire-at-will’ culture.

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John Page is the South’s National Organiser for the Transport Salaried Staff’s Association (TSSA)

The recession is hitting hard – unemployment is high and there is widespread fear among Britain’s workers about their own jobs.

Virgin-trainBut at Virgin Trains, workers also have to worry about the company’s insidious culture of ‘fire-at-will’.

Martin Hodges is just the latest to be told his face suddenly doesn’t fit at Virgin Trains:

“I believed Virgin was a company where I could feel a sense of belonging. I thought, ‘I really can make a difference here’.

“At first, everything seemed great, but I began to notice that the management were not really listening to legitimate concerns raised by the staff.

“So I decided to stand as a TSSA rep to support my colleagues and gain a voice. With the union behind me, I persuaded management to change their policy and gained confidence as a rep.”

In January, Martin was unexpectedly called into a private meeting with HR:

“I was taken into a room and told that my communication style was unacceptable and that managers did not like that I questioned their decisions.”

They then dismissed him on the spot.

 


See also:

Workers’ rights are being abused all around the world 6 Jun 2012

NAO report reveals how Branson ‘Glazered’ taxpayer on Northern Rock 18 May 2012

Exposed: Richard Branson the cuddly union-buster 20 Dec 2011


 

After TSSA intervened, that was rescinded to suspension pending an investigation. What that investigation has so far hinged upon is the allegation that Martin was on sick leave for too much of 2010. Yet in 2011, Martin won an award from Virgin Trains for his attendance record!

Martin’s case isn’t unique; this has happened at Virgin Trains before, making it in effect an unwritten policy. It is illegal and against their own stated procedures to fire at will.

We are now balloting our members at Virgin Trains for industrial action. Our position is clear. If the company has genuine concerns about an employee’s performance, they should use their proper policies rather than taking action outside of the law and their own procedures.

Earlier this year, Left Foot Forward revealed how Richard Branson had personally weighed in against a union bid for recognition at Virgin Atlantic. Richard Branson is a respected businessman and humanitarian, but respect must also now be shown to all of Virgin’s employees.

Virgin Trains’ own guidelines speak proudly of their commitments to their staff, but increasingly this rings hollow if their employees cannot enjoy their work without the constant fear of dismissal on the whim of management.

Now morale in the company is suffering, and that isn’t good for anyone. Passengers, already hit by high fares and a poor service record at Virgin, deserve staff who are well-motivated and happy. If Virgin agrees to fair treatment of all staff and commit to follow its own procedures, this dispute will be called off immediately.

Please show your support for Virgin Trains staff by joining our Facebook campaign page and tweeting @RichardBranson to ask him to treat staff fairly.

 


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29 Responses to “Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy”

  1. EMT TSSA Branch

    Virgin Trains staff in "constant fear" of @RichardBranson's 'fire-at-will' policy: http://t.co/9UO1nxUo by @TSSAunion's @JohnPage10

  2. Sam Collins

    It is the fight that trade unions were made for: challenging the fear culture of bullying bosses http://t.co/fQS4wjmm #VirginOnTheRidiculous

  3. Dave Watson

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy. Not the public image he likes to portray http://t.co/0gC5L514

  4. Hilda Palmer

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy. Not the public image he likes to portray http://t.co/0gC5L514

  5. Katie Stanton

    Richard Branson: humanitarian? but not so much to his own staff? http://t.co/A3LlWA3a

  6. R.I.P John Lennon

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy. Not the public image he likes to portray http://t.co/0gC5L514

  7. Blarg1987

    I hope they suceed in forcing Virgin Trains to come clean, and hope this case was taken to tribunal, and Acas.

  8. Clare Cruikshank

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy. Not the public image he likes to portray http://t.co/0gC5L514

  9. Kevin Lindsay

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy. Not the public image he likes to portray http://t.co/0gC5L514

  10. Anonymous

    It IS a commitment. Maximum work, minimum pay, minimum training.

    Like most UK companies.

  11. Chris F

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy. Not the public image he likes to portray http://t.co/stx4xQ1I

  12. Paul Sceeny

    RT @leftfootfwd: Virgin Trains staff in 'constant fear' of Branson's 'fire-at-will' policy http://t.co/SZ65mZYa < why am I not surprised?

  13. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Virgin Trains staff in &quot;constant fear&quot; of Branson's 'fire-at-will' policy http://t.co/3m2JVBqG

  14. Richard Fisher

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy. Not the public image he likes to portray http://t.co/0gC5L514

  15. Iain Hedley

    It is the fight that trade unions were made for: challenging the fear culture of bullying bosses http://t.co/fQS4wjmm #VirginOnTheRidiculous

  16. Emily McIvor

    Virgin Trains staff in "constant fear" of Branson's 'fire-at-will' policy | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/YDi4LM09

  17. Anonymous ;-)

    It might be interesting to know that this employee had 111 days sick (all unconnected short term absences) in two calendar years, and that none of his TSSA colleagues in Customer Relations will be voting for strike action. Bear in mind Martin was their own rep! They are fed up to the back teeth of this lazy, shiftless toerag. Martin hates working for Virgin Trains, and he made no secret of his distaste for his colleagues, too.

    He started going sick shortly after his probation (Virgin has a strict policy regarding sickness during probation). He was then, after 111 days of unconnected absence, informed that any future sickness in the next twelve months would put his employment at risk, and he didn’t go sick for a whole year! Funny that – things improved. He openly admitted to a colleague that he ‘couldn’t wait to go sick again’, and sure enough, straight after the 12 month period ended, he magically went sick again. So he got fired.

    Nothing to do with him being a union rep, and everything to do with him being a piss-taker. Good riddance.

  18. Jacka Garth

    Interesting that @VirginTrains can sack their staff on a whim. http://t.co/xPE6kvHI

  19. Stop City Airport

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy http://t.co/9tBCaOwh

  20. Clay Harris

    Virgin Trains staff in “constant fear” of Branson’s ‘fire-at-will’ policy http://t.co/9tBCaOwh

  21. Aaron Kiely

    Disgusted to hear of @VirginTrains treatment of a trade unionist in their organisation – absolutely outrageous! http://t.co/PfA7hWP1 Pls RT

  22. Kate Osamor

    Disgusted to hear of @VirginTrains treatment of a trade unionist in their organisation – absolutely outrageous! http://t.co/PfA7hWP1 Pls RT

  23. Liza Harding

    Disgusted to hear of @VirginTrains treatment of a trade unionist in their organisation – absolutely outrageous! http://t.co/PfA7hWP1 Pls RT

  24. Newham Sue

    RT @leftfootfwd: Virgin Trains staff in &quot;constant fear&quot; of Branson's 'fire-at-will' policy http://t.co/q1Pzd7T6

  25. Derek Wall

    Virgin Trains staff in "constant fear" of Branson's 'fire-at-will' policy | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/YDi4LM09

  26. TheCrowLands

    Virgin Trains staff in "constant fear" of Branson's 'fire-at-will' policy | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/YDi4LM09

  27. kate whittle

    "@McIvorEmily: Virgin Trains staff in "constant fear" of Branson's 'fire-at-will' policy Left Foot Forward http://t.co/17t8Ewyg&quot; @GO_OPCOOP

  28. Hilda Palmer

    It is the fight that trade unions were made for: challenging the fear culture of bullying bosses http://t.co/fQS4wjmm #VirginOnTheRidiculous

  29. Dan

    It’s amazing. To those who don’t know him, he’s a trades union martyr. To his fellow workers who know him, he’s a waste of space.

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