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GWR Paddington depot workers to ballot strike action over the sacking of RMT activist

RAIL workers at Great Western Railway’s Paddington depot are to vote on a call for industrial action over the victimisation of RMT activist Ben Frederick, the union confirmed today.

All guards and drivers will be balloted for strike action and action short of a strike in support of train guard Mr Frederick, who was sacked following a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday.

The dispute dates back to August 11, when Mr Frederick, a highly regarded RMT activist, says he was assaulted by a passenger.

He reported being hit several times with a mobile phone, spat at and subjected to racist abuse.

Mr Frederick reported the incident to GWR duty control and British Transport Police (BTP). He was told that the BTP would contact him for a formal statement, but no officer came forward to interview him.

Mr Frederick was suspended from work in September after his bosses informed him that they would open an investigation into him assaulting a member of the public, even though no complaint had been received from the alleged victim.

The RMT says his lengthy suspension was in breach of an agreement with GWR that investigatory suspensions should not exceed 28 days.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash has previously described the case against Mr Frederick as “a vexatious and false allegation which has been cooked up by managers with a grudge against an active trade unionist.”

He said today: “We have been left with no alternative but to ballot our guards and drivers at Paddington depot for strike action and action short of a strike.”

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