ScotRail rejection letters ‘insulting and patronising’

The train driver jobs attracted thousands of applications. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The train driver jobs attracted thousands of applications. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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REJECTION letters sent by rail bosses to unsuccessful candidates who applied for train driver jobs have been branded “insulting and patronising” by union bosses.

The e-mails from Abellio, which runs the ScotRail franchise, suggested the failed applicants 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 e-mail was sent to around 200 internal candidates whose application did not proceed further.

It included a recommendation that those looking to apply again should “consider the effort you put into the process and how much you want the role” and urged them: “Don’t underestimate the role or its responsibilities.”

The e-mail 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.

“The panel felt that the content and/or the transferable skills mentioned in the application form did not fully demonstrate the level of commitment or suitability to this role.”

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

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “In my 30 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 e-mail 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 e-mail to send to loyal, hard-working staff whose application to become a driver has been unsuccessful.”

ScotRail admitted the letter could have been more “personalised and constructive”, and confirmed letters will now be sent offering feedback.

A spokesman said: “Our recent driver recruitment campaign was an extraordinary success. Almost 25,000 people applied to join our business.

“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 Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, 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.