Rubbish truck driver fired after driving on wrong side of road

By Hana Garrett-Walker

The rubbish truck driver was sacked after being seen driving the wrong way down a steep road. Photo / File
The rubbish truck driver was sacked after being seen driving the wrong way down a steep road. Photo / File

A rubbish truck driver was sacked from his job after he was spotted by management driving on the right-hand side of a steep Northland street into the path of oncoming traffic.

Galil Moukharris said he did it because his truck's clutch was faulty and it was safer to collect the rubbish by driving downhill rather than uphill.

But Northland Waste, which operates the refuse collection operation, said this breached company police and his contract was terminated in January 2011.

Mr Moukharris claimed he was unjustifiably dismissed and took his complaint to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

In the ERA hearing member James Crichton heard that issues over the truck's clutch was raised by Mr Moukharris, but Northland Waste said it was not urgent and parts needed to be bought to fix the problem.

Mr Moukharris was offered alternative trucks but he said neither of them were satisfactory.

On January 20, 2011 he was spotted by a branch manager crossing the centre line in his vehicle and driving down the right-hand side of the road to gather rubbish.

This breached the company's health and safety policy and he was dismissed following a disciplinary meeting.

"What happened here was that Mr Moukharris decided without consulting the company that, in effect, he knew best."

"There is no question that Mr Moukharris [acted] with the best of motives," Mr Crichton said.

However, Mr Crichton found that Northland Waste's decision to dismiss Mr Moukharris was what any fair and reasonable employer would do in the circumstances and Mr Moukharris' claim failed entirely.


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