Asda is a big corporate bully. That ws my first reaction to the news that an employee had been sacked for telling some people playing music in the store car park that they should be playing ‘The Sash’. The employee makes a joke, the management don’t like the joke, the employee gets fired – a typical muscle-display by a big employer in lean times.
That was at first. Then I began to think: who’s bullying who here? If the employee was serious – was trying to push people into playing music that suited his tastes rather than theirs – then he was completely out of order. He may not have liked the music but it was none of his business to suggest an alternative, especially if he was a store employee. If he wasn’t serious, as some reports suggest, and it was a ‘jocular remark’, then it’s probably time he was taught that sectarian banter isn’t funny. Not then, not now, not ever.
Yesterday some locals blocked entry to the store, demanding the man’s reinstatement. Billy Hutchinosn, the former PUP MLA for North Belfast, says the man shouldn’t have been sacked. “He is a well-liked person, he is a bit of a character. People going to Asda love going to his till.You can’t sack people for this sort of behaviour’.
Oh yes you can, Billy, and being a bit of a character or well-liked makes no difference. You want my suggestion? Do the generous thing and take him back, but with a clear warning that a single sectarian peep out of him or anyone else and they’re out on their ear permanently. Because right now, the bullying is by those picketing Asda rather than the store itself.