Home > Another Driver Unfairly Dismissed by Connex South Eastern
"Dangerous Trains Sent Into Service"
This is the front page headline of the Dartford and Swanley Express in March (2003). The article goes on: "Train company managers chasing bonuses and performance targets sent out trains with serious defects, a tribunal has heard."
This tribunal attracted much media attention. [more]
"You have to watch your back everywhere here now" "Yes they are trying to build a case up. What you ought to do is keep your head real f**king low."
One of the tribunal documents was a transcript of a meeting where 2 Connex managers interviewed Mr Kelly. The secretly recorded interview included the local managers condemning senior Connex managers. [more]
Comment from Mr Kelly's Solicitor
Mr Paul Maynard was quoted on meridian news:"It has been a long battle and he had to take a lot of flak at the tribunal. He is completely delighted."
"It did take a lot of courage and personal investment on his part because, sadly, this is the second case of a health and safety representative who has taken Connex to a tribunal without the support of a major rail union."
Another Driver Unfairly Dismissed by Connex
Jim Kelly has won his case against Connex South Eastern. The Tribunal Decision centred on procedural irregularities, such as the fact that Connex sacked Mr Kelly at a hearing that took place without him being present. The Decision accepted that "dismissal was outside the range of responses open to a reasonable employer."
Former train driver Jim Kelly
Jim Kelly had been a driver for 11 years, and a health and safety rep for 3 years. At the time of his sacking he was not a safety rep, though right to the end he had been involved in trying to improve the deteriorating safety standards within Connex.
The incident that Connex used to sack Mr Kelly took place on 14 February 2002 when he had driven his train into Slade Green Station. This was the end of his duty and he should have been relieved by another driver. The local manager should have informed Mr Kelly (and also the signalbox) that the relief driver had been delayed; although on this occasion he didn't.
Slade Green is one of about 20 recognised relief points. Every week hundreds of Connex drivers, when due for relief, will fully apply the brakes, release the train doors, secure the driver's cab, and then will walk towards the nearest drivers' room to make sure the relief driver is on his or her way. This is what Mr Kelly did at Slade Green. No driver has ever been cautioned, let alone sacked for this. Connex decided on this occasion that this amounted to "gross misconduct," even though it presented no safety problem.
A witness at the tribunal, ex Connex driver Holden, gave details of the work that Mr Kelly had carried out in trying to improve safety conditions within Connex. Mr Kelly had played a positive role in bringing about improvements to the Drivers' Restructuring agreement (service conditions that resulted in excessive hours worked with the ensuing increase in safety incidents including SPADs [Signals Passed at Danger]).
He was particularly scrupulous in exposing the way that managers would pressurize drivers into taking trains with safety faults into passenger service.
The Tribunal Decision acknowledged that Mr Kelly "had on numerous occasions raised concerns about driver fatigue and health and safety and various issues relating to Connex's business." However, the Tribunal did not accept that the dismissal was as a result of Mr Kelly raising safety concerns and 'whistleblowing.' Nowhere in the 12 page statement does the Tribunal explain this decision.
The Tribunal decided to pay Mr Kelly 75% of any monetary awards. The hearing to decide the actual award was held in June, but so far there has been no final decision.
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