Luas driver refused route because it was too close to end of shift

WRC hears operator refused to drive because route due in one minute before end of shift

A Luas driver came close to losing his job after refusing to operate a tram that was due to arrive at its destination shortly before his shift ended.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) heard that on November 11th last the tram was scheduled to leave the Red Cow stop at 8.31pm and travel to the city centre before returning at 9.59pm – one minute before the end of the driver's shift.

An adjudication hearing was told that the driver was concerned that “the least little delay” would result in him overrunning the end of his shift, and “this was something he was anxious to avoid”.

No particular reason was given for his determination to avoid overrunning the end of his shift, other than “general inconvenience,” WRC officer Penelope McGrath noted.


The 8.31pm service did not run as a result of the standoff and a subsequent disciplinary process found that the driver’s refusal to perform duties specified in his job description had constituted gross misconduct.

His employer did not accept that the driver had an option not to do this task “simply because it ran a little close to the end of his shift”; and said that he should be available for the entirety of his shift, and “not just the parts he chose”.

Gross misconduct could have resulted in summary dismissal but the employer instead chose to impose a lesser sanction of a 12-month warning letter.

Unblemished record

A dispute arose between the driver and his employer concerning the severity of this sanction, and the matter was referred to the WRC.

In his submission, the driver asked that his previously unblemished record since the commencement of his employment in 2004 be taken into consideration.

His employer made the point that the driver’s conduct had constituted gross misconduct and that leniency had already been shown by not dismissing him outright.

It was also noted that the driver’s team leader had told him that he could leave the city centre terminus five minutes early to ensure that he got back to the Red Cow Station with time to spare before the end of his shift. However, this had not resolved the situation.

In her decision, Ms McGrath said she was satisfied that the driver had refused to perform a function which was “well within his employer’s rights” to ask him to perform.

“On balance, I would accept that the claimant was exposed to being dismissed for his conduct and that the employer did indeed apply leniency by giving him the lesser sanction of the 12-month warning letter,” she stated.

She recommended that there be no change to the disciplinary sanction already imposed.