Wednesday 23 January 2019

Postman in dispute over package 'too big for bike'

Stock photo
Stock photo

Gordon Deegan

A postman fell out with his bosses over his refusal to take a package just over 40cm long as it was "too big for his bike".

The falling out between the postman and An Post bosses is revealed in a new Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ruling in which the postman's claim for being penalised over his refusal to take the package was thrown out.

The flashpoint between the delivery man and his superiors emerged on July 10 last year.

The postman refused to deliver the packet "as he was not prepared to put his or other people's safety at risk", saying the parcel was long and narrow and he was unable to load it on his bike without it sticking out.

The item remained undelivered on July 10 and at a meeting with his manager the next day to discuss the matter, the postman again refused to deliver the packet as "it was not safe".

In arguing this position, the WRC report states that the postman appeared to be relying upon an internal company safety task procedure, which states that "when cycling… loads must be secure and not stick out".

Later that day, the postal worker was informed by a union representative that the parcel would be delivered by van.

The postman has worked as a postal operative since 2005 and, up to this incident, had an exemplary disciplinary record.

An Post argued that given the size of the packet and that it was well within the maximum dimensions, and that there was no issue with weight, it was wholly reasonable to expect the postman to deliver it.

When the postman refused to deliver the package, the matter was addressed with him on a disciplinary basis and disciplinary sanction was issued.

The postman appealed the disciplinary sanction internally but his appeal was rejected.

An Post believes that the postman behaved unreasonably and contrary to his responsibilities as a postal operative to deliver all mail items. An Post argued that the sanction was therefore very reasonable.

The sanction imposed was a second-tier sanction in a five-stage process that ranges from verbal warning to dismissal.

The sanction is due to expire next month.

WRC adjudication officer Roger McGrath said he was satisfied the worker had made a "protected act", but did not believe the postman had been disciplined because he raised concerns. Instead, Mr McGrath ruled he was penalised for a continued refusal to take the parcel after his manager found no risk, and because of his manner in interactions with the manager.


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