Driver's payout after brakes cut

A LORRY DRIVER is to get more than £42,000 because he quit his job after workmates cut his brakes.An employment tribunal has ruled that David Bright's decision to resign because he could not face going back to P & O Nedlloyd Ltd at Felixstowe amounted to unfair dismissal.

A LORRY DRIVER is to get more than £42,000 because he quit his job after workmates cut his brakes.

An employment tribunal has ruled that David Bright's decision to resign because he could not face going back to P & O Nedlloyd Ltd at Felixstowe amounted to unfair dismissal.

The company was sharply criticised at yesterday's hearing at Bury St Edmunds for not having done enough to protect Mr Bright.

Mr Bright had worked for P & O for 27 years until he resigned in August last year after being subjected to a hate campaign by colleagues.


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Tribunal chairman Iain Pritchard-Witts said there had been a "deafening silence" from the company in the face of a situation which had demanded action.

P & O Nedlloyd Ltd – whose Felixstowe depot in Sub Station Road made a £400,000 loss last year – had been left "wringing its corporate hands impotently", he added.

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Mr Bright, of Cloncurry Gardens, Felixstowe, is to be paid a total of £42,695 in compensation and costs by his former employer.

He resigned following a campaign waged against him by fellow drivers after he refused to contribute to a leaving collection for a man he did not like.

Subsequently Mr Bright, 58, was assaulted by a union shop steward, who was sacked by P & O but which sparked off strike action and a series of incidents.

When the tribunal opened in December, Mr Bright said: "I have no doubts the men would go to any lengths to get rid of me because they thought I was responsible for the sacking of the shop steward."

Mr Bright told how his lorry had been vandalised with obscene graffiti, grease on the door handles, the battery flattened and the dashboard kicked in.

Despite complaints to management, nothing was done until managers installed a CCTV camera – but failed to tell Mr Bright so he did not park his vehicle where it would be covered by the surveillance.

Matters came to a head in June 2004 when a brake pipe connecting the tractor unit to the trailer was cut, he said.

Shortly afterwards Mr Bright was signed off sick with stress by his GP and never returned to work.

"The reason why he could not return is because he felt too frightened," said Mr Pritchard-Witts, announcing the judgement of the tribunal.

P & O Ferrymasters had denied liability for Mr Bright's departure and said it had taken all reasonable steps to investigate the incidents he reported and to ensure his safety.

While admitting that a brake pipe had been cut, the company insisted that it was one which would have immobilised the vehicle, rather than one which would allow it to set off in a dangerous state.

But tribunal chairman Mr Pritchard-Witts said it was the unanimous decision of the three-member panel to accept Mr Bright's version of events in which he said the more crucial pipe had been severed.

Mr Pritchard-Witts said: "Cutting the lines to a vehicle like this could also be construed as a potentially criminal act designed to endanger the life of the driver."

He added that it had been a "heinous offence", and not enough had been done by P & O to investigate or track down the culprits.

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