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Tesco worker sacked after 10kph crash

A TESCO worker was fired from his job after a 10kph tow-truck crash, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has been told.

Onder Ates was allegedly driving his small vehicle "flat out" through a warehouse in Donabate on July 28, 2010.

The 34-year-old, from Lotts Lane, Lower Liffey Street Dublin, claims he was unfairly dismissed by Tesco in August 2010 following the incident.

The company says he breached health and safety regulations and had already received two final written warnings when the accident took place.

On the day, Mr Ates struck one of the warehouse aisles while driving his LLOP machine, a low-level order picker with cages in tow.

The company said it was a "wilful failure" to comply with health and safety regulations.

An investigation and disciplinary hearing took place and Mr Ates was dismissed from his job in August 2010. He had worked for the company for nearly four years.

Tesco section manager Colm Cloake, who was on duty on the day of the incident, described the distribution centre as a "little village of machines" and one of the largest warehouses of its type in Europe. He said he saw Mr Ates driving "flat out" and taking the corner of the aisle at speed without slowing down. One of the cages being towed by the LLOP "whacked" the structure and came off the vehicle.

Asked what should have been a safe speed to negotiate the turn, Mr Cloake said a driver would probably need to reduce speed to 5kmh to turn safely.

Safety

He approached Mr Ates with the intention of issuing him with a serious penalty point for unsafe driving -- which would trigger a health and safety investigation --and asked him for his penalty point card but Mr Ates refused to hand it over.

"He was aggressive in his tone and body language and was waving his arms. He became very irate and drove off," said Mr Cloake who subsequently reported the incident to his shift manager.

Shift manager Stephen Delaney issued the notice of dismissal following a disciplinary hearing. He said Mr Ates had come to his attention on previous occasions for health and safety issues.

He previously issued Mr Ates a final written warning in 2009 after he intentionally tried to cover up with paint some scratches on a LLOP.

This was in breach of health and safety policy in which any damage to a machine must be reported. By doing what he did, Mr Ates had also been in breach of Tesco's honesty policy because he denied the incident.

Graham Macken, of Siptu, who represented Mr Ates remarked that his client had been issued a final written warning for in effect "touching up" one or two scratches.

"You make it sound very innocuous, but what he was doing was extremely dangerous," Mr Delaney replied.

The hearing will resume on April 19.

hnews@herald.ie


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