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Union backs conductor who kicked girl off train

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16:05 CEST+02:00
A union has leapt to the defence of the train conductor who was suspended after throwing an 11-year-old girl off a train on Wednesday because the girl didn't have a ticket.

The girl, who was traveling between Örebro and Gothenburg with her older sister, was forced off the train at a station in Kumla, about 20 kilometres south of Örebro.

Her whereabouts remained unknown for nearly 12 hours until police learned that she had been taken in by a concerned resident who found the 11-year-old sobbing near the Kumla station.

The conductor who decided to force the girl off the train was suspended on Wednesday while national rail operator SJ conducted an investigation of the incident.

Meanwhile, the conductor's labour union SEKO has quickly come to her defence, criticising the rail company's handling of the whole affair, despite the fact that she was following the letter of the law by her actions.

”It is a difficult situation, and the person involved made an assessment based on what she knew. I don't think she would have taken this course of action if she had known how young the girl was though, she based her judgement thinking that the girl is older than eleven," Lennart Jansson SEKO senior safety representative at SJ told The Local.

"If there is some good to come from this regrettable incident, it underlines how important it is that we have clear guidelines on what action should be taken, that all employees are aware of and follow. There is a document already but it seems not so many are aware of it."

He added, "In future everyone, the rail companies, staff and unions need to work together to ensure incidents like these don't happen again.”

The plight of the girl has created a media storm and a wave of criticism directed against SJ.

Social Democrat leader Håkan Juholt even weighed into the debate criticising the rail company for its handling of the case and the way the girl was treated.

SEKO is also highly critical of the response it feels SJ the railway company has taken.

”We think that SJ's behavior is populist and beneath contempt. This is just about making a scapegoat and they have put all the blame on an individual employee without having all the facts on the table," Erik Johannesson, chairman of the union's negotiating organisation, said in a statement.

Meanwhile the conductor at the centre of the whole case has gone into hiding following her suspension.

”I spoke with her yesterday and with a colleague who has more contact with her. She is feeling really bad and has gone away to a summer house somewhere," Jansson told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

As the row rumbles on, Aftonbladet has revealed that a similar incident occurred on a train from Stockholm to Gothenburg on Thursday morning.

According to the report, a 25-year-old was made to get off the train in an unscheduled stop at Barkaby just outside Stockholm because, even though she actually had a clip ticket for the journey, she hadn't registered it in the machine.

After a long argument with the conductor she was apparently made to get off the train despite finally agreeing to pay a supplement.

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