Postman's refusal to deliver 406mm-long packet on his bike leads to three days of State agency hearings

By Gordon Deegan

A postman with An Post fell out with his bosses over his refusal to take on his delivery round a packet measuring just over 40cm in length over his belief that it was too big for his bike.

The falling out between Robert Brennan and his bosses has now led to two State agencies employed in workplace relations machinery holding three days of hearings over the disputed packet and the decision by An Post to issue the Mr Brennan with a written warning over his refusal to deliver the packet.

Earlier this year after one day of evidence, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearing threw out Mr Brennan’s claim for being penalised by An Post under Safety, Work and Welfare legislation over his refusal to take the package.

Mr Brennan appealed that ruling to the Labour Court and the court has now upheld the WRC’s earlier ruling after hearing a further two days evidence.

The flash-point between Mr Brennan and his superiors emerged on July 20, 2017, over his refusal to take the 406mm-long packet on the back of his bike.

Mr Brennan refused to deliver the packet from the back of his bike saying it “could not be safely delivered on his bicycle without infringing An Post’s safety and health rules".

Mr Brennan said that the parcel was long and narrow and he was unable to load it on his bicycle without it sticking out.

An Post said that the item was comfortably within the maximum dimensions for a packet just being 406mm in length.

They facilitated Mr Brennan by making arrangements to have the packet carried to a drop box 200 yards from the customer’s home.

Mr Brennan would then be able to carry that packet by hand by walking to the customer’s home from the drop box.

In its findings, the Labour Court stated that the offer by An Post to have Mr Brennan drop the packet by hand to the customer’s home from the drop box addressed any safety concerns Mr Brennan may have had.

The court found that Mr Brennan’s refusal to deliver the packet “was an industrial relations matter masquerading as a health and safety issue”.

The court said: “Whatever merit there was in the Complainant’s initial refusal to carry the packet on his bicycle, it evaporated when the Respondent arranged to have it carried to and deposited in a drop-box close to the customer’s home.

"At that point, any safety concerns had been addressed.”

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