A ROYAL Mail postman has been sacked after 28 years for arriving just one minute late with a special delivery.
Robert Lockyer, who was based at the Ashford Delivery Office in Kent, had been tasked with dropping off a parcel to a high street bank by 1pm.
The veteran postie says he arrived at the branch at 12.56pm, but that is was 1.01pm by the time the parcel was signed for because he had to wait in the queue with regular customers.
Items under special delivery, of which Mr Lockyer successfully delivered around 1,500 over the course of his career, are guaranteed to arrive between 9am and 1pm the following day.
A disciplinary meeting in October 2018 saw Lockyer accused of gross misconduct over the incident, which had occurred the previous month, Kent Live reported.
John Peter, delivery officer manager at Mr Lockyer's branch, accused him of "continual failure to follow correct procedures".
Lockyer appealed the decision, but it was upheld at an employment tribunal in July.
The tribunal heard Mr Lockyer's performance at work had "not been entirely satisfactory" and that it was "clear from the evidence that the claimant was a challenging employee".
Independent casework manager Sue Knight-Smith said: "To suggest the dismissal was for being one minute late was not a true reflection of what actually happened."
She said Mr Lockyer was aware of bank protocols but "chose to ignore the noon PDA alert and left the delivery until the last moment."
The case dismissed after Mr Lockyer withdrew claims for unpaid wages and redundancy pay.
The tribunal heard that Lockyer had been given a serious warning in May of last year after failing to secure his vehicle.
Three months later, he received a dismissal penalty, suspended for 24 months, for failing to obtain a signature for a delivery.
At the time of the second incident, he was told "going forward any breach of standards will lead to your dismissal”.
Mr Peter said that a late delivery would usually result in a penalty valid for one or two years, but that Mr Lockyer's dismissal was justified because of his record.
After the hearing, Mr Lockyer said in a statement he was “bitterly upset” at the “harsh” treatment he had received.
“I can’t believe what has happened to me – all I wanted to do was to do my job," he said.
“I really hope the union can make this right.
"I just want to get back to work.”
Mark Baulch, outdoor secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said Mr Lockyer's case was "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 said.
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"The delay is obviously due to the unusual procedure of the bank itself in telling our member to queue alongside the other bank customers.
“How on earth our member could be considered to be at fault here is completely beyond me – this is why the culture within the workplace must change, once and for all."
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