When you have worked for a company for years, without a single disciplinary write up, you don’t expect to one day be fired on the spot. Well, that is exactly what happened to 55-year-old Paul Scott. Scott had worked at the landfill, owned by Viridor, in Beddington Lane for seven years. He had no disciplinary infractions during this time. Then one day, he was fired on the spot, for using an electronic cigarette. There was no warning, no write up; he was just fired.
Scott had decided to quit smoking. He was using e-cigs to help him accomplish this goal, but never dreaming that it would cost him his job. Viridor had recently updated their company policy to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on the job. Here is where the problem starts. Although this new policy was implemented, management had apparently not informed the employees of this change. So when Scott used his e-cig during work hours, he had no idea he was breaking this new rule. When a manager saw him using his e-cig, he was immediately dismissed for breaking a company policy he didn’t know existed.
Later when Scott’s co-workers found out what had happened, several of them decided they should take action. They have been talking to trade union officials at UNITE regarding going on strike. The regional officer of UNITE, Onay Kasab, stated that union members are meeting to discuss what actions need to be taken in this situation. Kasab expressed the unfairness of Viridor’s actions while talking to the press, pointing out that Scott had lost his job based on the word of one manager.
Although nothing definite has been decided yet, a strike is not out of the question. It seems that if a strike were to take place it would be in December. If the strike in implemented, it could have disastrous results on the communities of Sutton, Kingston, Croydon, and Merton. All four of these communities send over half of their waste to the landfill in Beddington Lane.
Scott seems to hold no ill feeling towards Viridor and has expressed a desire to be able to go back to work. He pointing out that he has worked in this industry a long time, and had not intentionally broken company rules. He had been unaware of the new policy. Although Scott would be glad to return to work, it does not seem to be a possibility at this point. He is hopeful that he may be able to find some kind of retribution for the loss of his job. He mentioned that possibly a strike by his co-workers would put pressure on Viridor and encourage them to re-evaluate their decision.
At this point, there has not been a decision regarding the strike. Viridor has explicitly stated that union officers have not mentioned striking at this time. Viridor did mention that there was an investigating into the matter of Scott’s firing, but they also said that his actions were against their policy. They did not comment or make any indication that Scott may be allowed to return to work. Hopefully Viridor will do a full investigation and a fair decision will be reached.