Electronic cigarette row sparks strike threat
Workers at the borough’s main landfill site have threatened to go on strike after a colleague was sacked for smoking an electronic cigarette.
The trade union UNITE have accused Viridor, who run a waste facility at Beddington Lane, of wrongly sacking Paul Scott, a worker at the site for seven years.
Mr Scott, of Carshalton, was spotted by a manager smoking and was told he had breached regulations.
The 55-year-old said he had been smoking an electronic cigarette, as he was trying to give up smoking, which he thought was not against company policy.
He said he was told during his disciplinary hearing that smoking an electronic cigarette was not allowed but it was a new part of company policy and had not been communicated to anyone.
A spokesman for Viridor said a robust investigation was carried out which concluded Mr Scoot was in breach of company policies and was dismissed as a result.
Onay Kasab, the UNITE regional officer, said as well as making a claim for unfair dismissal they are now formally consulting with union members to take action.
Mr Kasab said if strike action was to take place, it would be in the lead up to Christmas in mid-December.
He said if strike action was to take place it would affect bin collections in Croydon as the landfill site would not be able to function properly, and rubbish would have to be taken elsewhere.
The Beddington Lane site takes 63 per cent of waste from Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton. There are more than 20 workers at the facility.
Mr Kasab said: "This really is quite appalling. This man has lost his job based on the word of one manager who thought he saw a cigarette.
"It simply is not appropriate to sack somebody based on this appalling lack of evidence and when the individual has offered a more than reasonable explanation.
"We have begun formally consulting with Unite members with a view to taking action to support our member".
Mr Scott said he was angry at how he was treated and said he will take the case to an employment tribunal.
He said: “I have been working in this industry for a long time, and I have worked at this plant for seven years.
“I was supposed to have been aware of this policy about electronic cigarettes but it was not communicated to anyone. So how am I supposed to know?
“It makes me angry really. You are being pulled up for the stupidest of things. I am out of work now for seven years service. I have not had a disciplinary ever before.
“It is a very long shot that I will get to go back. Hopefully if people decide to strike then that will put some pressure on them.
“I have got a lot of people on my side as they are disgusted with outcome of this, they are all standing behind me.”
A spokesman for Viridor said they are yet to be approached by union representatives about any impending strike action.
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