Spanner in the works for Queenstown mechanic

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A Queenstown mechanic who claims he was unfairly sacked has won the right to mediation.

Jason Francis Murphy stopped working for Macaulay Motors Ltd in January. There is some dispute over whether he was sacked or resigned.

He raised a grievance over the ‘dismissal’ but the firm argued he had not done this satisfactorily within the 90-day statutory period.

Murphy took his case to the Employment Relations Authority which on September 26 ruled his grievance was raised satisfactorily and ordered both parties to attend mediation.

Murphy was ‘dismissed’ on January 21 during a meeting with the firm’s operation manager Stephen Snoep.
Snoep then detailed the conversation in a letter dated three days later.

“We discussed in particular, your cigarette smoking whilst working with flammable liquids in the workshop,” it reads.

“This is strictly against our health and safety policy and poses risk not only to yourself but other staff also.”

The letter, published in the authority’s determination document, also recounts concerns over Murphy’s workmanship.

Murphy defended himself in subsequent telephone conversations and in a ‘statement of problem’ to the authority on April 3.

He considered the ‘statement of problem’ to be him raising a grievance.

Macaulay’s counsel Rebecca Laney in her submissions accepted that a grievance could be raised by a ‘statement of problem’, and that this was submitted within 90 days, but she submitted that Murphy misidentified the employer and did not raise his grievance with sufficient specificity.

Employment Relations Authority member Helen Doyle, in the determination, says “Mr Murphy sets out in some detail in his attachments… his view of the issues set out in the letter.

“He also refers to being sacked while on a doctor’s certificate and the effect of medication on his ability at the meeting to contribute or understand.

“I find that was clear enough to show a basis on which Mr Murphy considered the dismissal to be unfair or unreasonable.

“I also find that attachments show that Mr Murphy did not agree with what he considered to be the grounds on which he was dismissed.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz