Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Sacked bus driver ordered to pay ex-employer's costs

File photo / Doug Sherring
File photo / Doug Sherring

An Auckland bus driver has been ordered to pay his former employer $3000 after failing to prove he was wrongly sacked.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled Paul Jackson should contribute the money towards Transportation Auckland Corporation Limited's (TACL) costs, after Mr Jackson failed to prove he was unjustifiably dismissed.

Mr Jackson was well-known and highly regarded by patrons of the hop-on, hop-off route around Henderson, but refused to return to work after changes were made to his regular bus route which he had driven from Monday to Friday for almost 12 years.

He stopped turning up to work last February, after Transportation Auckland, which is contracted by Auckland Transport to operate its bus services, reshuffled its west Auckland routes.

The so-called 'hopper route' was among those altered, requiring Mr Jackson to work across all seven days of the week as part of the new roster.

When he failed to report to work, the company terminated his employment on the grounds of abandonment.

Mr Jackson raised a grievance with the ERA, claiming he was unjustifiably disadvantaged by Transportation Auckland's decision to reschedule its services without consultation.

He also claimed his position had become redundant, and sought compensation.

However ERA member Anna Fitzgibbon found he was not unjustifiably disadvantaged because the company had consulted on the proposed changes.

The ERA heard Tramways Union delegate Haeata Paraone did not tell Mr Jackson about the proposed changes in detail because of the stress it would place on Mr Jackson, whose partner was very ill.

Ms Fitzgibbon said that was unacceptable. She also said it was unacceptable for the union delegate to fail to inform members, and then claim the company had not consulted.

She found Mr Jackson was not dismissed.

"It is my view that Mr Jackson, in refusing to return to work and in notifying TACL of his intention not to return to work unless certain conditions which were unacceptable to TACL were met, terminated his employment."

- APNZ

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