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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Two Stobart truckers claim unfair dismissal

Two truck drivers are alleging unfair dismissal against haulage giant Eddie Stobart after the company made them redundant.

A tribunal in Carlisle heard yesterday that David McKain and Geoffrey Smitham, both from Whitehaven, claim they lost their jobs in 2011 due to favouritism.

The pair worked from the Lillyhall depot and argue that the process that led to their redundancy was flawed.

In addition they allege that there was no reasonable selection criteria for roles they were interviewed for in order to avoid redundancy, and that the process was coloured by favouritism rather than objectivity.

Appearing as a witness for Eddie Stobart, manager Tony Delaney argued that this was not the case.

The company’s position is that some truck drivers were excluded from the redundancy pool because their skills were different.

Some drivers have a set rota and carried out specific journeys every week, while others work on a more ad hoc basis.

Mr Delaney said: “The difference is familiarisation.

“The issue of favouritism was never raised with me during the process. The role that they were carrying out was different and I didn’t want to cause too much disruption to our operation if I didn’t need to.”

They say that the consultation process was not meaningful, that Mr Smitham was not afforded the right to appeal and that Mr McKain was allowed to appeal but not contact further.

The pair said that their interviews during the consultation process were just five minutes long and that interviewees did not have adequate time to prepare.

Kevin Hopkins, a general manager at Eddie Stobart, said: “It’s a stressful experience but I believe that the way the interviews were conducted was not wholly inappropriate – I think they had time to prepare.”

Alison Watson, a human resources employee at the company, said she would follow the same course of action if the situation rose again.

She said: “I have got no knowledge of any favouritism at all through the process.

“I made a clear distinction between the two roles and mMy belief is that individuals would have been quite disrupted, and this would affect our relationship with customers.”

The tribunal continues.

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