Published: 21:42, 21 September 2019
| Updated: 11:08, 23 September 2019
A union says it is appealing the 'outrageous' dismissal of a postman it says was fired for making a delivery one minute late.
Robert Lockyer, who has worked for Royal Mail for 29 years, was fired from the delivery office at Ashford in October last year after management accused him of 'gross misconduct' for the alleged delay.
Mr Lockyer’s case was appealed by the union through Royal Mail procedures and, when this failed, was submitted to an employment tribunal, which heard the case in July.
Its verdict, delivered last month, was to uphold the dismissal.
The tribunal findings highlight two previous breaches of conduct by Mr Lockyer, with warning periods yet to expire.
It states: "The claimant’s performance at work was not entirely satisfactory. On 31 May 2018, he was issued with serious warning valid for 12 months. On 2 August 2018, he was issued a suspended dismissal penalty valid for 24 months. The Claimant was informed that: “… going forward any breach of standards will lead to your dismissal”.
The judgment concludes: "However, Mr Peter (the delivery office manager) was clear in finding that the Claimant making a late delivery, taken in isolation, would normally result in a one or two year penalty, not dismissal. The fact is that Mr Peter found that the Claimant guilty of an act of misconduct by making a late delivery to the bank. When “totting up” as he put it, in other words taking into account the Claimant’s recent disciplinary history, he determined that the Claimant should be dismissed."
However Mark Baulch, outdoor secretary of the Communication Workers' Union said: “This is probably one of the most outrageous dismissals by Royal Mail and tribunal verdict I’ve ever heard about.
“Make no mistake, this union is appealing this decision legally and, in the meantime, we’ll also be taking up this case with the company at the highest possible level.”
He added: “If it was solely that he was just one minute late, then this would be a strong mitigation on its own but in this case, the postman actually arrived inside the premises – a high street bank – four minutes before the 1pm special delivery time.
“And the only reason that he was unable to obtain the signature of receipt that he needed was because he was told he had to wait in the queue along with the other bank customers.”
Mr Lockyer said he was “bitterly upset, adding: “I can’t believe what has happened to me – all I wanted to do was to do my job.
“I really hope the union can make this right. I just want to get back to work.”
A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Although we cannot comment on individual cases, we can confirm we followed the correct procedures in this matter."