A 60-year-old railway signalman with 44 years of service was sacked for trying to take a 20-minute break during the evening rush hour in Sussex.
Suspended with full pay until May 18, Lee added, "I started here as a box boy when I was 16; it's my whole life, and it's completely shattered. I have given them 44 years of my life, and now that's it, I'm done. They have taken everything from me."
Post the stern action by Network Rail, rail unions are threatening to strike to help Lee get his job back. But, Lee's is an old battle as he had been fighting for the mandatory breaks for eight years. Lee won a grievance case in 2015 that gave the signalmen at the station the right to those breaks. However, in spite of the entitled breaks, when he arrived at work on January 8, for an eight-hour shift starting at
'I would never put anyone travelling or working on the railway in any danger," Lee said.
Chris Rodway, secretary for the Sussex Coast branch of RMT said, "He's been arguing this case for eight years. The working time directive states that they are entitled to a meal break. What happened is clearly vindictive."
The company said, "It is true that he gave notice of this intention, but he was given a direct instruction by management not to do so. He was therefore disciplined for gross misconduct in failing to follow a reasonable management instruction."
However, Lee's dismissal was later upheld at appeal. He conducted a protest at Arundel Station while a petition to reinstate him reached more than 6,300 signatures.