'Hate campaign could have cost my life'
A LORRY driver has claimed a hate campaign by colleagues, in which he alleges a brake pipe on his vehicle was cut, could have cost him his life. David Bright, from Felixstowe, told an employment tribunal yesterday that the pipe on his articulated lorry was cut by workers who blamed him for the sacking of a union shop steward.
A LORRY driver has claimed a hate campaign by colleagues, in which he alleges a brake pipe on his vehicle was cut, could have cost him his life.
David Bright, from Felixstowe, told an employment tribunal yesterday that the pipe on his articulated lorry was cut by workers who blamed him for the sacking of a union shop steward.
He said: "It seemed they were so determined to get rid of me they wanted to get rid of me off the face of this earth."
Mr Bright, who worked as a driver for P&O Nedlloyd for 30 years, is claiming that when he quit in August he had been effectively forced to go by a series of incidents, which he says started after he refused to contribute to a collection for a colleague he disliked.
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The dashboard of his lorry had been kicked in, the battery allowed to go flat and obscene graffiti daubed on the sides of the vehicle in grease, he said. At Felixstowe docks other drivers had blocked him in.
Mr Bright, 58, told the hearing in Bury St Edmunds yesterday that the brake pipe incident had been the "final straw".
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His health broke down and he was signed off for a month-and-a-half with stress by his GP before he handed in his resignation. Before that he had only ever taken five days sick leave in 30 years.
The company has strongly denied the allegations. Regional manager Gareth Hughes said that he had tried to investigate Mr Bright's complaints but had been hampered by a lack of evidence.
Not all the incidents related to the tribunal had been reported at the time by Mr Bright who had always appeared to be satisfied with the responses given by the company, said Mr Hughes.
Mr Bright, of Cloncurry Gardens, Felixstowe, said his problems began with an incident at the company's depot in Sub Station Road, Felixstowe.
He said: "It was over a silly argument over me refusing to contribute to a collection for a colleague I did not like".
Later he was confronted by a shop steward who assaulted him, said Mr Bright. The shop steward was dismissed while Mr Bright was issued with a verbal warning because he may have contributed to the situation.
If he had not discovered in June that an air pipe to the brakes on his trailer had been severed, the results could have been serious accident, he said.
Mr Bright told the tribunal: "I have no doubts the men would go to any lengths to get rid of me one way or another because they thought I was responsible for the sacking of the shop steward."
When damage to his vehicle started to happen he had reported each incident to management but later gave up because he felt nothing was being done, said Mr Bright.
Mr Hughes said the company spent more than £450 on covert CCTV cameras in a bid to end the problems, but Mr Bright had failed to park his lorry where directed and so the pictures were no use.
He said not all the damage could be attributed to vandalism, although obsecenities had been daubed on Mr Bright's lorry. It was unclear if the air pipe had been deliberately cut, he said.
Mr Hughes said he had done all he could to tackle the problems and ensure there was no repetition.
The tribunal heard that Mr Bright is claiming that P & O Nedlloyd had failed to act to ensure his safety while at work.
Mr Bright is asking the tribunal to uphold a claim of constructive unfair dismissal and award him compensation.
The tribunal has been adjourned and a decision will be announced at a later date.