Decision makes a mockery of Translink’s nomination of Action Mental Health as ‘charity of choice’
Management must adopt more enlightened approach or face risk of workers hiding mental health concerns
November 13th: Unite Regional Officer, Davy McMurray, expressed his union’s disgust at the treatment meted out to one of his union’s members, a rail signal-box worker, who was sacked despite his recovery from a bout of depression.
“We are frankly appalled at the unfeeling approach taken by Translink management to workers facing mental health difficulties. Their actions make a mockery of the publicity they garnered nominating ‘Action Mental Health’ as their ‘charity of choice’ for the next three years.
“Paddy Cunningham, a signal-box worker based at the Belfast rail hub, was sacked after suffering a severe bout of depression.
“Initially, management told him he could return to his position if he was able to become ‘tablet-free’ – a challenging goal he achieved with the assistance of his own NHS GP.
“But then Translink’s own private-sector, Occupational Health Doctor, moved the goalposts without any justification whatsoever and against the counsel of one of his colleagues and the worker’s own NHS GP. Management told Mr Cunningham that he couldn’t return to his old position as he might suffer a relapse in the course of the next two years.
“When pressed by Unite, they offered the worker a number of various different positions, but all at a cost of more than half his salary. Their approach is reminiscent of a time when anyone suffering mental health difficulties was stigmatised.
“They are forcing workers who are prescribed medication for mental health conditions to choose whether to do the wrong thing and keep quiet and hope not to get caught using non-disclosed medicines; or do the right thing, inform management and run the risk of losing your job as a result.
“This decision threatens to undermine systems and controls which ensure passenger safety. We are demanding Translink signs up to the Equality Commission’s Mental Health Charter and demonstrates a more enlightened approach to this serious issue”, Mr McMurray concluded.