Boozing dockworkers lose appeal

Two dockworkers, who were health and safety representatives, were fired for taking part in an eight-hour booze-up just months after a liquor ban had been imposed.

Henry Nee Nee and Andy Nathan took their case against former employers C3 Ltd to the Employment Relations Authority arguing they were unjustifiably sacked and discriminated against but the authority disagreed.

In September 2011 during a drinking session on C3 premises, an employee was punched in the side of the head and rolled to the bottom of some stairs.

As a result, manager of the Auckland business Ronald Neil told all workers alcohol was not to be brought on to or consumed on the premises.

Text messages were sent to employees, posters put up around the wharf and the health and safety committee discussed the matter, while both Nee Nee and Nathan were present.

On February 3, a female employee found several beer boxes and empty bottles in a bin and alerted management.

Neil confronted a staff member who confirmed to him a group had been fishing on the wharf and had then had a drinking session in the locker room.

He confirmed Nee Nee and Nathan were part of the group.

Baz Pritchard, a general manager, was drafted in to undertake an investigation but when he spoke to the two senior employees they denied being part of the impromptu party.

Nee Nee said he was drinking ginger beer and at a disciplinary hearing Nathan also said that was the extent of his involvement.

However, one of their colleagues definitively told Pritchard: "We were all on the piss."

During his investigation he found the six people involved had drunk about 66 bottles of beer over an eight-hour period and Nee Nee and Nathan appeared to have driven home afterwards.

At disciplinary meetings towards the end of March the pair maintained their innocence but after meeting union officials they confessed their involvement, while at the same time minimising their role in the booze binge.

On April 10 Nee Nee and Nathan were officially dismissed and at a recent hearing the Employment relations Authority deemed their actions were justified.

The authority disagreed with the men that they had been discriminated against, saying C3 were within their rights to make examples of the health and safety representatives.

Auckland Now