The Basic Court in Podgorica annulled as unlawful the decision by which the Railway Transport of Montenegro JSC had temporarily suspended its engineer Milisav Dragojević (from July to October 2014) and punished him by a 20% decrease of salary for three months due to publicly making allegedly false and harmful statements regarding Railway Transport. HRA provided free legal aid to Mr. Dragojević in these proceedings.
The judgment, which has become final, affirmed that the disciplinary proceeding against Mr. Dragojević had not been conducted in a legal manner, and the court had annulled the disciplinary punishment as a result.
Mr. Dragojević publicly alleged that drivers of trains were not properly trained to work with the new trains, and the Railway Transport had not provided adequate evidence to deny his allegations either in disciplinary proceedings or to date in public.
Tea Gorjanc Prelević, HRA executive director: “The Basic court judgment has corrected the injustice caused to Mr. Dragojević, who risked his job and the welfare of his family in order to act in public interest. HRA provided free legal aid to Mr Dragojević also to encourage other professionals who may have something to warn of that they will not be left without adequate assistance in defending their rights”.
However, although we did manage to ensure that engineer Dragojević bears no legal consequences for his public statements, the Railway Transport provided no evidence in the disciplinary proceedings that would deny these statements, nor has the public, which does not have the choice of using the services of other railway companies in Montenegro, been reassured that the procedure for obtaining permission for operating trains has been observed and that in this regard the safety of railway traffic had not been jeopardised.”
HRA reminds that engineer Dragojević got public attention in July 2013 when he, being an expert with nearly four decades of experience and a trained engine driver who passed the exam for operating trains, stated that the drivers as well as the reviewers of trains had none theoretical and practical training on working with new trains which at the time had just arrived from Spain, which endangers the safety of passengers. The Railway Transport of Montenegro soon thereafter disciplined him for this public appearance.
It is interesting that the Railway Transport tried to disqualify the expertise of engineer Dragojević in its statements that followed this, and question the honesty of his intentions, while in relation to serious allegations that he had made it noted: “We inform the public that after the publication of the article in daily Vijesti titled: ‘Caution: engine drivers got ‘drivers licenses’ in haste’, the chief inspector for rail traffic conducted an inspection and stated in Record no. 08 /-1-3057/1 dated 22 July 2013 that the inclusion of CAF Civity trains in local traffic and training of train operators has been conducted in accordance with the Law and railway regulations.”
Bearing in mind that the Record on inspection review has been made on the same day the article has been published (22 July 2013), and that no details on the review undertaken have been provided, it remains doubtful whether the inspector examined and whether he could have examined in an appropriate manner all disputed allegations published in the article, including:
1. Has a theoretical i.e. practical training of engine drivers been conducted, and if yes, in what manner?
2. Have the engine drivers had any supervision during the practical training (if this training has been carried out)?
3. Have the engine drivers passed the professional exam without answering to a single question, i.e. whether the test was reduced to “handing over the license”?
4. Has staff training in relation to daily inspections and maintenance of trains been conducted?
5. Is it true that a one of the members of a Commission (composed of ten members in total) which was supposed to verify the knowledge of engine drivers was a political scientist, not two engineers who each went to a factory in Spain that produced the trains and who were familiar with their performances, and if so, whether this affected the ability of the Commission to decide correctly?
The correspondence between HRA and Railway Transport of Montenegro JSC (in Montenegrin) is available here.