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Trade union TSSA urges suspension of Network Rail HR boss

David Woods , 27 Apr 2009

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Trade union TSSA today called on Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon to suspend Network Rail HR director Peter Bennett from his 200,000 a year position over "bully boy" tactics.

The call comes a month after Labour MP Jim Devine, whose Livingstone constituency has an agreement with the TSSA, claimed that Bennett was "presiding over a culture of fear and bullying" in a Parliamentary debate.

At the time parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport Paul Clark commented: "[Devine] said that people have been dismissed for alleged poor performance, ignoring employment rights. His comments are on the record, but those are matters for the management to follow through on; as I have already indicated, the Government does not have direct day-to-day control over those matters."

Gerry Doherty, leader of the TSSA, launched a personal attack on Bennett and said: "We want action and we want it today. Bennett must be suspended to allow a full independent inquiry to go ahead."

He added: "Bennett was identified eight weeks ago in the House of Commons as presiding over this culture and yet he is still in post. We want to know why Mr Hoon has not acted against him to protect the 35,000 employees at Network Rail."

But Network Rail has reacted to strongly deny the accusations, claiming bullying and prejudice is not acceptable at the organisation.  

A spokesman told HR: "These smears are nothing more than a nasty, baseless, personal and ridiculous campaign from the TSSA. Doherty really has got a bee in his bonnet and there really is nothing going on at Network Rail. We have a modern and innovative HR system."

And in a statement, the spokesman added: "The picture the TSSA paints of the culture at Network Rail is not one I recognise. Mr Doherty seems to be annoyed at the normal, modern human resource practices we employ that have contributed to his organisation losing every strike ballot he has attempted to bring whilst in charge.

"His organisation must grow up and start to live in a modern business world rather than attempting to damage the reputation of our people. His members' subscriptions would be better spent in constructive dialogue with the company about delivering an even better workplace for employees."

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