Do your job, AIRC tells truck drivers

Truck drivers must not be allowed to ignore basic job roles such as loading and unloading vehicles, IR commissioner says

By Brad Gardner | March 9, 2010

Truck drivers must not ignore orders to load and unload vehicles, according to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

AIRC Deputy President Reg Hamilton used an unfair dismissal dispute involving Australia Post to say companies are right to expect truck drivers to complete duties such as loading and unloading.

He found that Wayne Darvell's repeated refusal to complete the task when asked by Australia Post was unjustified because it was within the scope of his employment.

Calling Darvell’s refusal "a serious and deliberate breach of Australia’s Post’s directions", Hamilton threw out the unfair dismissal claim.

"The Commission has repeatedly found that lawful employer directions within the scope of employment must be complied with," Hamilton says.

"If it found otherwise the effect on the ability of Australia Post and other employers to manage workplace issues would be substantially undermined."

Hamilton says Australia Post’s treatment of Darvell was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

"Australia Post showed an almost exemplary patience in dealing with Mr Darvell. It repeatedly gave Mr Darvell the opportunity to put his case, responded to his stated concerns and clarified and made clear the nature of the directions it was giving him."

In contrast, Hamilton says Darvell was "consistently defiant in his attitude".

Darvell claimed loading and unloading was unsafe, but the AIRC rejected his claims as unsubstantiated after a report from workplace injury agency Comcare found his concerns were unfounded.

Darvell also claimed he was unfairly treated because of his role as a steward in the postal workers union – an argument dismissed by Hamilton.

The AIRC was told Darvell had a pattern of non-compliance, including repeatedly ignoring Australia Post’s policy of only collecting unit loading devices with weight labels.

He also breached another safety direction by not using a designated walkway at a company depot.

"Mr Darvell’s employment was terminated for these maters, not because he was a shop steward or an occupational health and safety representative," Hamilton says.

Australia Post also argued it had to take action against Darvell because it was not confident the driver would be able to follow directions in future.

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