NETWORK RAIL could face high court action over its policy of restricting re-employment of redundant railway engineers, a leading construction lawyer warned this week.
Raymond Joyce, an independent lawyer with over 15 years experience in the industry, told NCE that he was already working with two former Network Rail engineers with a view to bringing a case to court.
'It's outrageous [that Network Rail is] restraining ex-employees from working as railway engineers, ' said Joyce. 'My hunch is that we've got a good case for making an application to the high court against Network Rail for preventing somebody from exercising their skills and experience to earn a living for a period of time.'
He appealed for other engineers made redundant by Network Rail and subsequently restricted from working to come forward to help strengthen the action.
Employment law specialists from professional union the Transport Salaried Staff's Association (TSSA) agreed that a case on behalf of members affected by the policy was likely.
'We are looking to take legal action over this case, ' said TSSA negotiations manager John Munday. 'We need more details at this stage, ' he added, reiterating that it remained unclear how many engineers were affected.
But he warned that Network Rail's next wave of redundancies was expected on Monday.
Since last November Network Rail has enforced a policy of not re-employing redundant engineers for two years. It has also advised its contractors and consultants that it 'preferred' them not to re-employ these staff in the industry (NCE last week).
One engineer was laid off by consultant Scott Wilson six weeks into his new job after Network Rail spotted his CV in a team preparing to work on the railway (NCE 6 May).
Another experienced engineer recently made redundant by Network Rail told NCE that the policy had prevented him from working. He pointed out that this undermined the 'professional credibility' of chartered civil engineers.
Network Rail this week again defended its policy over the re-employment of redundant engineers.
'Nothing has changed as far as we are concerned, ' said a Network Rail spokesman. 'All we are telling employers is that we prefer them not to (reemploy redundant engineers).
We are within our legal limit and are not demanding anything.'
INFOPLUS Contact Raymond Joyce at rj@joycelegal. com