Last month, we saw a worker at UK store MotherCare lose her job after using an e-cigarette on the job. Now another story is circulating after 55-year-old Paul Scott was fired for vaping at work. Scott had worked at the Viridor-owned landfill in Beddington Lane for seven years without a single disciplinary infraction. He recently decided to try to stop smoking and turned to electronic cigarettes to help him make the transition.
Unfortunately, Viridor had recently implemented a company policy prohibiting the use of e-cigs and they had not yet managed to tell their employees about the new rule. When Scott used his e-cig at work, a manager spotted it and fired him immediately. The spokesman for Viridor told the press that there had been an investigation, but that because Scott broke a company rule, he was dismissed.
When his coworkers found out that he would not be returning to work, they were outraged. Several began to threaten to go on strike and they have enlisted the help of trade union officials at UNITE. Onay Kasab is the regional officer of UNITE and he said that the members are currently meeting to determine what needs to happen as recourse for the unfair actions against Scott. He indicated that a strike is entirely possible and if it happens, it would occur in December.
If workers decide to move forward with a strike, the results could be disasterous for local residents. Around two thirds of waste from Sutton, Kingston, Croydon, and Merton go to the Beddington Lane landfill. The twenty workers collect waste and process it. Without them, the trash would either need to go to another area dump or it would remain in the streets.
Kasab told the press that Scott’s situation with Viridor is completely unfair. “This man has lost his job based on the word of one manager who thought he saw a cigarette. It simply is not appropriate to sack somebody based on this appalling lack of evidence and when the individual has offered a more than reasonable explanation.”
Scott hopes to find retribution for his lost job, but he would gladly return if he could. “I have been working in this industry for a long time, and I have worked at this plan for seven years. I was supposed to have been aware of this policy about electronic cigarettes but it was not communicated to anyone. So how am I supposed to know?” he said.
He continued, “It is a very long shot that I will get to go back. Hopefully if people decide to strike then that will put some pressure on them.” For now, we will have to wait and see if employees decide to strike to support their friend and coworker. The spokesman for Viridor insisted that they have not heard any mention of a strike by union officials at this time. They have no intention of allowing Scott to return to work and remain unapologetic about his dismissal.
Is this the beginning of a wave of workplace terror against e-cigarettes? Do you think vaping in the workplace should be allowed?