Two council binmen, dismissed after a drinking-on the-job probe, have lost their jobs for a “second time”.
Last month, an internal South Tyneside Council appeals panel agreed to reinstate the driver of a bin wagon and a bin operative who had both been dismissed in February, according to their union.
The relieved workers were this week awaiting formal written notification of their reinstatement, having being told by union reps they would get their jobs back.
But when letters from the council arrived they contained bombshell news that the dismissal stood.
The men’s union representative today said he was “staggered” by the news – claiming council bosses had overturned an appeals panel decision.
Wilf Flynn described the intervention as “unprecedented”.
The move also appears to cast doubt over the credibility of the appeals panel procedure.
The panel was made up of elected Labour councillors Ernest Gibson, the chairman, Doreen Purvis, vice chairman, and member Pat Hay.
All three declined to comment.
South Tyneside Labour councillor Mr Flynn, who supported the two workers in his capacity as senior shop steward with the trade union UCATT – the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians, said: “I am staggered and very disappointed by this decision.
“I believe that it is unprecedented for an appeals panel decision to be overturned in this way.
“I was sent an email on August 28 in which confirmed that the panel had agreed to reinstate these men. I don’t know the basis on which it was overturned.
“I feel for the two lads and their families.
“They are told they are getting their jobs back and they expect to get a letter confirming that – and instead they are told they remain sacked.”
A spokesman for the council said: “The council wishes to confirm that the two waste operatives and the driver will not be returning to their employment.
“The council has decided to allow the original decision to stand.
“The council does not intend to make any further comment.”
Three workers – two bin operatives and a driver – were suspended after reports of alcohol consumption while on their rounds in the Sunderland Road area of South Shields on December 27 last year.
Mr Flynn has previously claimed the original decision to sack the men was “emotionally driven” because of the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy on December 22.
Following an internal investigation the two bin operatives were dismissed in February.
The driver was also sacked, although there was no suggestion he had consumed alcohol.