Warehouse staff fired for ’voicing health and safety concerns’

Three members of staff found to be unfairly dismissed after speaking out about their health and safety fears

An employment tribunal has heard how three members of staff, who worked at depots run by Wincanton PLC, in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, were followed by private detectives and sacked for speaking out about their health and safety worries and for smoking an e-cigarette.

The three members of staff were found to be unfairly dismissed at a tribunal. A Wincanton spokesperson said that procedures were not to blame.

A delivery driver, Dale Underwood, who worked at the Huntington depot, said that he was subjected to accusations of blackmail after he reported his concerns about dangerous overloading of delivery lorries, which Wincanton ran for supermarket chain Co-op.

A CD and letters were sent to a manager at Wincanton PLC, asking for £50,000, or videos showing health and safety violations would be posted on-line.

An investigation by the police cleared Mr Underwood and no charges were brought against him.

Another member of staff, Mr Keith Joy, won his case, after being sacked for smoking an e-cigarette at the Huntingdon depot in June 2014.

Mr Joy told how managers had chased up the smoking allegation after he had reported and complained about the fact that his signature had been forged on vehicle safety records, something that could have meant unsafe vehicles were placed on the roads.

Staff member, Natalia Samuel, was injured by a falling drill bit at work and filed a disability discrimination case against Wincanton PLC. After the incident, Mrs Samuel was followed by private detectives and videoed.

The company used a DVD of Mrs Samuel buying food at Northampton Market, to try and show how she had deceived them over her injuries, however, the tribunal decreed that Mrs Samuel was unfairly dismissed.

A spokesperson for Wincanton PLC said: “In none of the three was Wincanton criticised, nor found to be at fault, for its health and safety or whistleblowing procedures”

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