Thousands of people have signed a petition to reinstate Fermanagh man Richie Venton who is the first trade unionist in Scotland to be sacked by employers in disputes over workers’ safety from the coronavirus, it has been claimed.

Originally from Maguiresbridge but living in Glasgow for 28 years, Mr. Venton, an elected Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) shop steward and convenor in IKEA Glasgow, was sacked by his employer IKEA after he raised concerns over workers’ sick pay cuts.

He had worked at the Glasgow store for 12 and a half years before his dismissal by IKEA bosses, who claimed he “breached confidentiality” by ­forewarning staff of the cuts.

A campaign titled ‘Reinstate Richie Venton’ was launched last week by workers furious at the “victimisation” and sacking of Mr. Venton.

The campaign’s aim is to have Mr. Venton reinstated to his job and his elected union position; to win full average wages for all Covid-sick workers in IKEA and every other workplace; and to stop employers making billions in profit but endangering workers’ lives by expecting them to survive on £95-a-week Statutory Sick Pay.

A spokesman for the campaign told The Impartial Reporter that as of Tuesday, September 1, IKEA have drastically reduced the threshold for workers qualifying for company sick benefit and that this will also affect IKEA staff in the Belfast and Dublin stores.

“They will be deprived of company sick benefit and be placed on £95-a-week Statutory Sick Pay more rapidly. As of Tuesday, any worker, who has been off on two occasions in the past year, if they are off a third time, they won’t get a penny in company sick benefit, they’d be on £95-a-week,” claimed the campaign spokesman.

“The other threshold is if you have 10 days off in a year then from the eleventh day onwards you won’t get any money in company sick benefit.

“That’s a drastic reduction in the thresholds even compared to what Richie was fighting for back at the end of May,” he further claimed.

The campaign spokesman explained that Mr. Venton had been fighting against these workers’ sick pay cuts as “nobody can afford to live on £95-a-week”.

“The danger is if someone who has Covid-19, out of hardship would be driven back into work, not only endangering their own health but that of 500 odd staff members who work in the Glasgow store.”

Mr. Venton is the first union activist in Scotland to be sacked for standing up to employers over issues to do with Covid-19, the group claims.

“A lot of trade unionists across the UK including Northern Ireland have flooded in their messages of solidarity through the campaign,” shared the campaign spokesman.

“The campaign has had enormous support, already over 5,000 people have signed the petition within a matter of days.

“The fear most people have is if this treatment of a union activist is not reversed and overturned, it could spread to other companies.

“Other employers will gain encouragement. So the more we can publicise this atrocity, the more it helps to make people stand up and defend themselves and prevent other employers doing the same as IKEA have,” the campaign spokesman told this newspaper.