'You're sacked': GKR wins unfair dismissal dispute

GKR Transport did nothing wrong sacking a truck driver who refused to work, Fair Work Australia says

'You're sacked': GKR wins unfair dismissal dispute
'You’re sacked': GKR wins unfair dismissal dispute
By Brad Gardner | May 10, 2010

Transport and logistics operator GKR Transport was right to sack its truck driver for refusing to work, the industrial relations umpire has ruled.

Fair Work Australia has thrown out an unfair dismissal claim lodged by Peter Hugo Maxwell Owen against the carrier for showing him the door on December 22 last year.

Owen had previously organised to take December 24 off to attend an interview for a mining job—which GKR was aware of—but was asked closer to the date to work that day to meet demand for Christmas deliveries.

The driver refused the request and claims the company’s operations manager, Adrian Webb, responded: "If your heart’s not in it you may as well not be here, you’re sacked."

Fair Work Australia Deputy President Brendan McCarthy says GKR had a valid reason for terminating Owen.

"The requirement of the employer, in the circumstances, I consider to have been reasonable given the nature of the operations and the day in question," he says.

Owen argued he was treated unfairly because he had organised with the company to take the day off in advance and it is illegal for an employer to sack and employee for attending a job interview.

"I was completely upfront with my employer when explaining to them that I intended to further my career in the mining industry," he says.

In a written statement to Fair Work Australia, GKR disputed Owen’s claims.

"It was known that Peter was looking for work in the mining industry which was fine until it started to affect his work at GKR," the company wrote.

"He should have arranged the interview for another time. We needed all our drivers at work for Christmas deliveries."

A privately-owned carrier, GKR is based in Western Australia and operates throughout Australia.

While basing its service around express transport to eastern states, GKR runs storage and distribution services in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

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