A paper mill worker has won £26,000 compensation for unfair dismissal after being falsely accused of stealing diesel.
Unite member Wayne Davies, 44, from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, was filmed taking fuel from a tank and was “unjustly” banned from the UPM print works in Shotton, Flintshire.
Mr Davies was in fact using the diesel to fill up water jets to clean lorries, a job he and his colleagues did every day, but was disciplined for breaching health and safety regulations.
A tribunal heard that the father-of-two should not have been banned from working on the site by the owners, UPM.
As he was unable to do his job as a warehouse team leader his employer – C M Downton haulage contractors – dismissed him.
Following his dismissal he was supported in his claim for Unfair Dismissal by his trade union, Unite the Union and their panel solicitor Walkers Union (part of Slater and Gordon).
Mr Davies told the tribunal in Prestatyn, North Wales, that the disciplinary process had been a “sham” and that he was fired because he was on a better pay and benefits package than new recruits. He had worked for the haulage firm for 25 years.
The tribunal heard how the haulage firm did try to persuade UPM to lift the ban but they refused. Mr Davies’ bosses at CM Haulage then failed to make enough efforts to find him another job in the organisation.
The tribunal judgement said: “I do think that where the injustice is as patent as it was in this case it was incumbent on a reasonable employer, not only to contact other sites to see whether there were existing vacancies, but also to explore more thoroughly the possibility of reorganisation in order to accommodate an employee who by its own admission it valued and would have re-employed had there been appropriate vacancies.”
Mr Davies said: “I am delighted to have won the case but I never thought it would get this far. I was carrying out a job that was done every day by myself or my colleagues and ended up getting the sack.
“I was a loyal employee for 25 years and can’t believe how I was treated. It was totally wrong and the strain it has put on my family and I has been intense. I would like to thank my Unite union rep David Griffith who helped me through this ordeal.”
David Griffiths, Regional Officer, Unite the Union said: “There were steps that could and should have been taken by CM Downtons to prevent this dismissal. Despite having evidence to suggest that Mr Davies was not guilty of the allegations made by UPM management Downtons ignored this evidence and dismissed our member without thought of the consequence of their actions.
“We thank our panel solicitors Walkers Union, part of Slater and Gordon, for their help in bringing this case to a favourable resolution and hope that it will help spur CM Downtons management and others employed by UPM who think they can act beyond employment law to realise that Unite the Union will robustly defend our member’s rights”
His lawyer, Mike Keenan from Walkers Union, part of Slater and Gordon, said: “Mr Davies had been a loyal employee for 25 years but was unjustly banned from the site where he worked.
“This left him unable to do his job and he was eventually dismissed.
“Mr Davies has suffered as a result if his mistreatment and I am delighted we have been able to secure this judgement for him.”