Sacked after call to Gerry Ryan show

Fri, Jan 27, 2012, 00:00

A TRUCK driver stopped on a motorway to take a call from the Gerry Ryan radio show and was subsequently sacked after performing a U-turn and delaying his cargo by 24 minutes, the Employment Appeals Tribunal has heard.

Noel Cawley of Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, originally from Dublin, has taken a case for unfair dismissal against his former employer Target Express, a transport company.

The telephone call at the centre of the case, which was made on November 19th, 2009, resulted in Mr Cawley winning a €2,000 holiday on The Gerry Ryan Showon RTÉ 2FM, the tribunal was told yesterday.

“It was a mad situation. It was a lovely situation. I listened to Gerry Ryan the whole time; he was hilarious. To actually win something on the show was something I’ll never forget. When I was driving, I wasn’t thinking straight. That’s what I mean. I was in happy land.”

Mr Cawley admitted pulling into the side of the motorway when the call came through and the person on the other end told him the line was bad.

He initially thought it was someone at his employer’s Dublin depot and then realised it was the radio programme.

“In hindsight, it was a regrettable decision and I shouldn’t have [pulled in]. I’m sorry for doing that,” he said in evidence.

He also said he was sorry if, as the company’s solicitor said, he called his line manager, John Boyle, “a thug in a suit” and “a prick” during a conversation after being dismissed. “I had just lost my job and I was upset and panicking,” he said.

He had rung The Gerry Ryan Showon November 18th and was only in work on November 19th, despite suffering with an ear infection, because the company had no cover.

“They [the show] were just looking for funny stories. That was the way The Gerry Ryan Showran. They were looking for mad stuff and the public to get involved. I thought I could add something to this.”

After completing the call, he resumed driving, but missed exit 17 off the M7 and instead took exit 18, and then made a U-turn to get back on the motorway and towards Thurles, his destination.

When his boss rang him a few minutes later and asked him why was he stopped, he misunderstood and said he wasn’t stopped as, by then, he had resumed driving.

He “should have” told his boss the next day that he had stopped some minutes earlier, he agreed.

The tribunal, sitting in Kilkenny, heard the company found Mr Cawley guilty of “gross misconduct” because he illegally pulled his truck into the hard shoulder of the M7 and then took a U-turn on a lesser road, delaying the delivery of goods by 24 minutes.

Mr Cawley’s representative, retired TEEU official and former ESB deputy chairman Joe La Cumbre, argued that he was not subjected to fair procedure as he did not have union representation at a disciplinary meeting.

Mr Cawley said life had been hard since his dismissal, which occurred in January of 2010.

“The financial implications of this has been very hard on myself and my family. It’s not nice.”

The hearing continues today.