Royal Mail staff in Cupar are to be balloted for strike action over the case of a postie who’s failed to win his job back despite a judge ruling he should be reinstated.
Dave Mitchell (57) won an employment tribunal in August after judge Ian MacFatridge ruled that Royal Mail had ‘no basis’ for believing that he had stolen mail while on his rounds in Ceres, Craigrothie and his home village of Chance Inn.
The judge ordered Royal Mail to give him his job back - but the organisation took the highly unusual step of asking for another hearing to reconsider the ruling.
And at the hearing this week Royal Mail’s lawyer Andrew Gibson drew gasps of disbelief from Mr Mitchell’s supporters when he said that he would not be returning to work ‘under any circumstances’.
Mr Gibson said that even if the judge ruled for a second time that Mr Mitchell should be reinstated, Royal Mail would not comply with the ruling because the y still believed he was a thief and his reinstatement would be completely impracticable given the ‘breakdown of trust and confidence.’
Mr Mitchell’s lawyer Ken Glass accused Royal Mail of ‘cocking a snook’ at the law by refusing to implement the judge’s ruling and displaying ‘breathtaking arrogance’ in refusing to recosider their position.
Mr Mitchell’s ordeal began almost a year ago when he was suspended under suspicion of stealing mail.
In July managerial staff in Cupar implemented a ‘sting’ which ended with Royal Mail investigators searching Mr Mitchell’s house, car and van, but nothing was found and Mr Mitchell described the operation as ‘shoddy’.
He was then sacked and took his case to the employment tribunal, at which the judge told Royal Mail to reinstate him by October 1.
Mr Mitchell then went back to the Cupar sorting office, believing he’d got his job back.
“I was over the moon,” he told Wednesday’s hearing.
“A huge cheer went up as I walked back into the building.
“The support from customers and colleagues has been amazing.
“ I thought I could just walk back into the job I’d been doing for 27 years and was good at, but that lasted about two days until I realised there was a question mark over it.”
Mr Mitchell denied that if he went back to his old job there would be ill-feeling between him and manager Colin Anderson, who had been involved in ‘the sting’ operation.
Mr Anderson was not present at this week’s hearing because Royal Mail’s HR boss Ian Haxton said he had been put under ‘intolerable pressure.’
Brian Philbin of the Communication Workers’ Union said that there was 100 per cent support for Mr Mitchell and that union members in Cupar were to be balloted over strike action within the next few days.
Mr MacFatridge said he would publish his findings within two to three weeks.