A traffic warden has been sacked — for having a golliwog keyring.
Mike Bower had worked for NSL Services, which manages parking on behalf of Bury Council, for about nine months when he was told by bosses that it was deemed an inappropriate object.
He received a letter through the post on Christmas Eve terminating his contract.
Mr Bower, of Sherwood Avenue, Radcliffe, has now spoken out after an appeal against his dismissal was rejected.
The 52-year-old said that he kept the keyring in his pocket and never had any intention to cause offence.
He says it only became an issue when the key ring fell off his bunch of keys, and he found it placed on his locker the next morning.
He claims he was then called in by bosses at the firm, based in Carne House, Parsons Lane, Bury, and told he was under investigation. Mr Bower said: “Christmas was cancelled in our household. I know there is not a good time to get sacked, but it was not good to lose my job on Christmas Eve.
“The key ring fell off my bunch and someone put it on my locker and the next thing I know I am being sacked.
“I did not flash it about. I kept it very private.”
Mr Bower said he bought the keyring for himself from a car boot sale after previously selling a similar key ring on eBay.
He added: “I buy and sell things on eBay and these keyrings are very collectable. I have bought one before and sold it on the internet. I am not a racist. I have lived in several other countries for quite a long period.
“I was working on the late shift and did not finish work until 9pm. When I got home, my wife asked: ‘Where’s your keyring,’ and I said I must have lost it on the road somewhere.
“It is not a racial item. It is just a keyring.”
A spokesman for NSL Parking said: “We can confirm that a civil enforcement officer was dismissed from his employment with NSL on December 23, 2013.
“The grounds for dismissal involve breaches of the NSL diversity policy, the NSL communications policy and for committing a serious act of discourtesy toward a fellow colleague.”
Mr Bower now says he is planning to take the company to court.