ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Transportation & Defence
M. Walsh/T O Leary
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Date of Adjudication Hearing:
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer:
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969 following the referral of the dispute to me by the Director General, I inquired into the dispute and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the dispute
The issue before the adjudicator was the severe warning and 2 days of unpaid suspension.
The Claimant has worked for the Respondent as a bus driver for the past 40 years. He has an impeccable record with no verbal or written warnings of any sort.
It was submitted that the Claimant had to perform the duty of reversing the bus into a cul de sac that he deemed dangerous.
On the first occasion, the Claimant stated that he had a training instructor with him to help with the manoeuver as it could not be done safely.
Thus, the inspector had to guide the Claimant by working as his point man in directing the bus in reverse.
The second time, the Claimant carried out these tasks on his own but could not do so due to obstructions in his way.
The Claimant ended up reversing along a footpath to complete the manoeuver to get the bus back out safely.
It was submitted on behalf of the Claimant that one hundred yards down the road this manoeuver could be done safely where there were no parked cars, no commercial vehicles and no children playing.
On the 14th June, the Claimant left all his passengers out at this point of the route.
The Respondent received a complaint from a local councillor that the driver had refused to complete the final section of the bus route.
The Claimant was spoken to by telephone on the 15th June regarding him not operating the full route on the previous day as per his operating board.
The Respondent submitted that the Claimant was instructed to operate the full route going forward.
The Respondent submitted that the Claimant refused to do this, and he was requested to attend at the Acting Chief Inspector’s office for further discussion.
At the meeting, the Claimant accompanied by his Trade Union representative refused to operate the route by stating that it was too dangerous for him to turn the bus.
The Claimant was again asked to operate the route to which he replied “No” and left the meeting.
On Monday 18th June, the Claimant was due to book-on at 14.00 hours when he was advised to attend the Respondent’s office along with his union representative.
The Claimant was given a seven-day notice of dismissal and he was stood down from duty on full pay with immediate effect.
The Claimant was advised of his right to appeal which he duly did.
The appeal was heard on the 18th January 2019 and the outcome was that the penalty was reduced to 2 days suspension and a severe warning.
The Respondent submitted that the route in question is being operated for many years with a turning point which requires a reversing manoeuvre. It was submitted that all drivers comply fully with the requirements of the route.
Both parties made written and verbal submissions at the hearing.
I find that the Respondent has a duty to provide the service they have been contracted to do.
I find that the Respondent has the right to manage and expect employees to fully comply with all reasonable instructions.
I find the Respondent should have gone with the Claimant on the route to look at the issues that he (the Claimant) had raised.
I find that process may have helped to clarify matters for the Respondent and given him an understanding of what the Claimant was complaining about.
I find that once the Claimant had raised the issue with the Respondent by doing so he had alerted them to the dangers associated with the manoeuver and he should have carried out his instructions, under protest if necessary.
I am making the following recommendation.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.
I recommend, on the clear understanding that the Claimant gives an undertaking that he will comply with all reasonable and lawful instructions in the future, the penalty of a 2-day pay suspension is withdrawn but the warning stands.