Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Metro Worker Claims Bosses Forced Him out; Engineer Tells Tribunal He Feared Sacking

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Metro Worker Claims Bosses Forced Him out; Engineer Tells Tribunal He Feared Sacking

Article excerpt

Byline: AMY HUNT

A FORMER Metro worker was given "no option" but to retire because he feared he would be sacked, a tribunal heard.

Bijan Zakeri, from Whickham, Gateshead, had worked for Metro owner Nexus for 28 years when he took illhealth retirement last February. He claims bosses made it impossible for him to continue working there, by not making allowances for his medical conditions, including numbness in his hand and stress after he had blown the whistle on safety issues.

And he said before agreeing to retirement he believed he would be sacked for "rocking the boat".

Mr Zakeri alleged that while other employees "got away" with dangerous practices such as setting fire to the tyres of a cherry picker then urinating on the flames to put them out, he was victimised for "doing the right thing" and speaking out about what he considered to be safety problems.

The 58-year-old had been signed off sick for a year with physical and mental health problems before he retired.

But by December 2009, an occupational health doctor had said he was fit to return to work with certain limitations.

Electrical engineer Mr Zakeri, who worked as a technician in Nexus' signalling and communications department, said the doctor had recommended he be given lighter duties, with no heavy lifting, due to his physical and mental condition.

At a meeting between Mr Zakeri and HR officer Julie Currie, the tribunal heard it was agreed he would see his doctor to be signed off the sick and would return to work.

On December 8 he went to see his doctor, got the note and went to another meeting with Nexus bosses.

But at that meeting it was suggested Mr Zakeri could be a candidate for illhealth retirement. The married dad-oftwo said until that point he assumed he would be going back to work.

He said: "At no point did I consider ill-health retirement. …

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