Binmen ‘sacked twice’ after drinking investigation to fight their case in court

South Tyneside Council bin collection
South Tyneside Council bin collection

Two council binmen sacked, apparently ‘reinstated’, then sacked again as part of a drinking-on-the-job probe are taking their fight to court.

The men – the driver of a bin wagon and a bin operative – were both dismissed in February, according to their union.

The operative had been accused of drinking while on the job. The driver was accused of knowing his operatives had been drinking during the shift on December, 27, last year.

Both men strenuously denied the claims and took their dismissal to an internal South Tyneside Council appeals panel.

The panel agreed to reinstate the driver and the bin operative, according to union chiefs.

A third bin operative also accused of drinking on the job had his dismissal upheld.

We are now in the process of collating as much information as possible for the tribunal.

Wilf Flynn

But, in a move described by the men’s union representative Wilf Flynn as “unprecedented”, council bosses allowed the original decision to stand.

Now the men are preparing to take the fight for their jobs to an Industrial Tribunal.

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 unable to say a lot at this stage as we are now in the process of collating as much information as possible for the Industrial Tribunal.”

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.

Following an internal investigation the two bin operatives were dismissed in February.

The driver was also sacked, although there was no suggestion he had been drinking.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “As the case is pending an employment tribunal it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”

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.

Six people were killed when bin driver Harry Clarke blacked out at the wheel of the vehicle, which ploughed into a crowd of shoppers last December.