Richard Branson draws criticism for dressing up as a cleaner

May 6th, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 6 (DPA) British billionaire businessman Richard Branson has incurred the wrath of trade union leaders by dressing up as a station cleaner in a TV commercial promoting his Virgin Trains network.
Branson, who also owns the Virgin Atlantic airline, appeared in the ad wearing an orange fluorescent jacket, his forearms covered in fake tattoos and some of his front teeth blacked out, as he drives a refuse cart through the main train station in Glasgow, Scotland.

Branson, 58, said the advertisement was to underline his appreciation of the workforce.

“I am so proud of all of our Virgin Trains people and if dressing up in disgustingly dirty clothes, having my teeth blacked out and getting covered in tattoos was what it took to provide it, I was delighted to oblige,” he said.

But Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT train drivers union, accused the Virgin boss of displaying a “patronizing” attitude.

“The blacked-out teeth and fake tattoos say a lot about the attitude of Virgin Trains to our members who work under enormous pressure to make the services tick,” said Crow.

Branson’s treating the hard-working rail employees, who had earned him a fortune in recent years, as “some sort of excuse for getting out the fancy dress box is patronizing in the extreme”, Crow added.

But a Virgin spokesman insisted that Branson was “well known for his sense of humour” and that his involvement in the company’s new marketing campaign would support Virgin Trains and the 3,200 people the company employs.

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