Diageo carried out covert surveillance in delivery investigation, WRC told
Posted on 26th May 2022 at 20:50
Eleven drivers have taken unfair dismisssal complaints against logistics company
Guinness maker Diageo carried out covert surveillance and interviewed more than 70 publicans in an investigation into keg deliveries that led to 15 workers being sacked by its delivery contractor, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has heard.
Eleven drivers and have taken unfair dismissal complaints against Shannon Transport & Warehousing Company Unlimited, trading as STL Logistics, including keg lorry driver Lukasz Tymicki, whose case was heard remotely by the WRC this week.
The workers are represented by James Byrnes BL on the instructions of solicitor Setanta Landers.
STL Logistics’ representative, HR consultant Brendan McCarthy, said Diageo’s security team made the employer aware of “a number of unscheduled and undocumented keg deliveries” to a named pub in Dublin’s northeast inner city on five dates between December 2018 and February 2019.
Photographs of the alleged deliveries taken by security officers secretly watching the pub were used in the disciplinary process and submitted in evidence to the WRC.
Mr Tymicki said in his evidence that he did not accept these photos as a “true account” and that attached statements were not presented to him when he was interviewed by his managers.
The investigation and disciplinary process ran from April 1st, 2019, to May 31st, when Mr Tymicki was sacked, with his appeal rejected that July, the hearing was told.
In the investigation interviews and again in his evidence, Mr Tymicki said Guinness drivers routinely transferred kegs between pubs as a “customer service” to publicans who would buy or borrow kegs from each other.
These were not documented, and collections of empty kegs often were not either, he said.
“The drop at the [bar under surveillance] was the first stop of the afternoon. There was no pub that could have provided kegs,” Mr McCarthy submitted. “Something must have happened to cause the kegs to balance,” he argued.
“There is no evidence showing or able to show that any product has gone missing, that any customer was short-changed, or that Diageo is out of pocket. That’s something my client ought to have been told,” Mr Byrnes said.
Mr Byrnes said his client had been presented with “hearsay” claims with serious implications for him during the disciplinary process – but no way to challenge them.
He said STL could not escape its own duty, as the employer, to inquire into the allegations, but that the firm “carried out none of the investigation except the interviews”.
“In fact, it was Diageo security snooping around carrying out covert surveillance,” he said.
STL Logistics’ general manager, Mr Stephen Cunneen, who conducted the initial investigation meetings, was present at the remote hearing but did not give evidence.
In cross examination, Mr McCarthy put it to the complainant that on December 19th, 2019, he had been stopped at the Guinness brewery gate at just before noon at the start of his afternoon run because his lorry was loaded with three extra kegs, which had to be removed.
STL Logistics held that the photos showed the complainant delivering two kegs to the pub under surveillance at 12.18pm that day, before any scheduled stops, Mr McCarthy said.
“I think I have one more stop in the city centre,” Mr Tymicki said, and named another named pub in the north inner city.
“If you look at the tracker diagram it shows you at the [pub under surveillance],” Mr McCarthy said.
“I’m loath to interfere,” Mr Byrnes said. “I’m looking at the tracking record of December 19th . . . [It] shows the truck at 11.55am leaving St James’s Gate, then travelling at 17.5 miles per hour. Then it shows the truck going to [the pub named by my client] at 12.03pm, the ignition is off and the speed is zero miles per hour.”
“The record then shows a purported stop at the [pub under surveillance] at 12.22pm. The interesting thing is it shows the truck doing 29mph,” he continued.
Seven more of the workers are to have their cases heard between now and July by adjudicating officer Andrew Heavey.
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