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Thursday 8 December 2016

Abellio criticised over 'patronising' driver rejection emails

Published 21/10/2015 | 18:06

There were about 300 internal applicants for the 100 posts Abellio ScotRail advertised last month
There were about 300 internal applicants for the 100 posts Abellio ScotRail advertised last month

Emails sent to unsuccessful candidates who applied for a job as a train driver have been branded "insulting" and "patronising" by union bosses.

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The correspondence sent by Abellio, which runs the ScotRail franchise, suggested they should "start by researching the role of driver" if wanting to apply in the future.

There were about 300 internal applicants for the 100 posts the company advertised last month, with thousands more from external candidates.

ScotRail said the email was sent to around 200 internal candidates whose application did not proceed further.

It included recommendations that those looking to apply again should "c onsider the effort you put into the process and how much you want the role" and "d on't underestimate the role or its responsibilities".

The email added: " The application form is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your desire to be successful in becoming a train driver. In this respect, your application was not considered to be of the high standard that we require."

Train drivers' union Aslef described the letter as "disgraceful" while rail union RMT insisted the company should apologise for the "insulting" communication.

ScotRail has said the letter could have been more "personalised and constructive", and confirmed letters will now be sent offering feedback.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: "In my thirty years as a trade union official I have never seen a letter so bluntly designed as a wholesale kick in the teeth for an unsuccessful job applicant and which is so clearly engineered to undermine an individual's self-esteem.

"The points about 'understanding the job' and 'underestimating responsibilities' are an exercise in treating both the internal and external applicants as a bunch of idiots."

Kevin Lindsay, union organiser in Scotland for Aslef, said: "This email is as extraordinary as it is insensitive.

"The fact that senior executives in the recruitment team at Abellio ScotRail think this sort of attitude, and behaviour, is acceptable boggles the mind. It's exactly this sort of bullying and dismissive attitude which has led to staff morale plummeting.

"Abellio needs to explain why they think this is the sort of email to send to loyal, hard-working staff whose application to become a driver has been unsuccessful."

A ScotRail spokesman said: " With such a large number of applications, we had to get information out to people as quickly as possible regarding the outcome of their application.

"This letter went to around 200 internal candidates whose application was unsuccessful while a further 130 existing staff have progressed to the next assessment stages.

"We appreciate that the letter could have been more personalised and constructive. That is why today we will be sending another letter to the 200 unsuccessful internal candidates offering one-to-one feedback."

The company is recruiting trainee train drivers for depots including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gourock, Inverness, Perth and Stirling.

During their first year of training, they will be paid £24,559, which will gradually rise to £43,212 following a probationary period.

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