Former Pickering Transport driver loses unfair dismissal claim

By: Paul Howell


Truck driver knew he was unfit to drive, but still got behind the wheel.

 

A truck driver who admitted to completing a journey under the influence of medication has had his unfair dismissal claim against Victoria-based Pickering Transport dismissed.

According to a Fair Work Commission (FWC) finding, Anthony Cini had a poor employment record, but the incident on September 7 resulted in a summary dismissal that did not take into account previous performance and absence issues.

The driver had noted he was likely to be affected by the medication before starting the journey from Broken Hill, but continued to drive regardless.

FWC vice president Graeme Watson found that he later admitted to driving unsafely as a result of the medication.

That admission occurred during a company meeting to investigate the situation.

While Cini later claimed that he did not take the medication until after the journey was completed, Watson found that the original admissions should stand.

"Given the communications that were made by Cini to the company prior to the journey and … when it investigated the matter, it was appropriate for the company to form the view that the relevant conduct occurred," he notes.

He did offer some sympathy to Cini’s circumstances.

The medication was prescribed in relation to an injury sustained in the workplace, but Cini was no longer receiving workers’ compensation benefits, "because of his inattention to detail in relation to the WorkCover entitlements".

That had placed him under financial pressure to work more shifts, regardless of his physical condition.

"He had medical limitations on working a certain number of shifts per week yet was not being paid for the shifts he did not work," Watson says.

"There is certainly an element of frustration that in order to drive on the shifts that he was allocated, he felt that he did require medication, yet he was concerned about the effects of that medication on his ability to drive."

But Watson says while those circumstances were taken into account, they did not excuse the significant risk taken.

The application for an unfair dismissal remedy was therefore dismissed.

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