Postal workers in Cupar could take further industrial action in support of a sacked colleague after a tribunal judge ruled that there’s ‘no reason’ why he shouldn’t be reinstated.
Royal Mail staff staged a 24-hour walkout on Saturday in support of Dave Mitchell, who was dismissed amid allegations of stealing mail.
In August, tribunal judge Ian McFatridge said there was no basis for the claims and ordered Royal Mail to give Dave his job back. But they refused to do so and asked for a second hearing at which they said he would not be reinstated ‘under any circumstances’.
This week, Mr McFatridge issued his judgement, saying: “I have found that there is really no reason why it is impracticable for the respondents to reinstate the claimant other than they are not prepared to accept the verdict of this tribunal.”
Dave (57) delivered mail in the area for 27 years but was pursued by Royal Mail investigators in an operation he likened to the ‘Keystone Cops’. No stolen mail was ever found but he was sacked anyway.
Kenny Logan, area secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, told the Fife Herald that the union would be seeking an inquiry into the way the investigation was handled at the time and could consider further strike action.
Following this week’s judgement, Dave said: “Unfortunately the employment judge cannot compel the Royal Mail to take me back, which is something they seek to cynically exploit.
“The tribunal have made a financial award in my favour which is the only remaining award they can make in the circumstances and is one which I have to accept, although with the greatest reluctance as it represents but a fraction of the loss I will likely incur over the forthcoming years if I am unable to gain paid employment.
“My real wish remains to go back to the job that I loved and to serve the customers who have supported me throughout this ordeal.”
He continued: “We appear to have an employer who when faced with a clear decision of an experienced and independent employment judge telling they have got it wrong simply refuse to accept that judgement.
“I am grateful for the support of my colleagues who have voted for industrial action to show not only their support for me but their opposition to the stance taken by management.
“I believe passionately that there is a real issue of principle here and that employers such as the Royal Mail should not be able to avoid what is morally correct by simply writing a cheque which is after all the shareholders money and not a payment by the management who got it woefully wrong.
“I hope that my colleagues will continue to press for the correct and proper outcome here which is reinstatement as originally awarded by the employment tribunal.”