John Gulliver: Counting the cost of unfair dismissal

The RMT did not respond to requests for comment

Tuesday, 29th March

gullier royal

Leslie Royal

ACCESS to justice is becoming a real issue for workers who are struggling to get their cases heard in employment tribunals with a huge backlog caused by Covid.

Many are being left to fund their own cases with unions restricting what kind of cases they will back.

This may be why Leslie Royal was left to fight his employment tribunal alone, despite appearing to have a cut-and-dried case of unfair dismissal.

Mr Royal had worked in Euston station for 23 years tanking trains, most recently for the company Atalian Servest, before he was sacked last year.

The 58-year-old had been asked to sign a document saying he would, on top of tanking – the process of filling trains with water – take on more duties including cleaning.

After he refused, arguing this amounted to a new job description, he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

“This is clearly not a gross misconduct as a matter of common sense,” said the judge’s ruling.

“No reasonable employer would class the claimant’s actions with regards to the refusal to sign as gross misconduct. The dismissal was not in the range of reasonable responses and the claimant has been unfairly dismissed”.

A fairly substantial five-figure sum was agreed last week but only after Mr Royal paid more than £9,000 for his own lawyers.

He told me: “I have worked there all this time with no wrongs, no disciplinaries. I feel gutted about all of this.

“I feel like they tried to destroy my character. I cannot ask for a reference from them to get the next job. To me, I feel like I’m a car that’s been driven straight to the scrapyard and cannot turn back.”

He added: “I could not believe the RMT would not help me through this. After all these years, I feel like they sold me out.”

Born in Yorkshire, with family from Jamaica, Mr Royal said he had learned other trades that he is able to fall back on. Others, aged in their late-50s, would struggle to do so.

The RMT did not respond to requests for comment.

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