Your Letters: Barman charged with drinking on the job

In the spirit of May Day, I hope that you will publish my story. Because of diplomacy, many have forgotten how unions and unionists help their members. I think we should be more forthcoming with these stories. This one for example:

Once, I encountered a member who was charged for consuming alcohol whilst on duty. He was a bar-tender serving drinks.  Worried about losing his job, he approached the union for help.

At beginning of the Board Of Inquiry, the union insisted, in the interest of fairness, that the Inquiry Officer should not be connected with the investigation of the misconduct.   This is a basic tent of BOI. HR which was going to be the “judge and jury” reluctantly agreed and found an uninvolved party to chair the Inquiry.

As the BOI began, HR was confident of nailing the member who was found smelling of alcohol during working hours.

After HR presented its case, the union asked if there was any evidence of the member being drunk.  “Did he speak with a slur? Was he unsteady in walking?” the union queried. The answer was no.    Still HR maintained that the charge was not about being drunk but drinking on the job.

Here the union responded that the barman is expected to taste the opened bottles in storage to test for quality. After tasting, the alcohol is spit out and not gulped.   The union contended that was exactly the reason why the member smelt of alcohol and was not drunk.

HR, stunned by this line of defence, protested. The union called in the F&B manager who testified that the barman is required to do quality checks by tasting.  It was enough to cast doubt as recorded by the impartial Inquiry Officer.  It was a big relief for the member as his job was saved.   For the union, it was just another day’s work helping a worker.

I have many of these stories. Unionists, IROs and union leaders have done much and continue to do much for our fellow colleagues and friends. I think all of us suffer from self censorship, we’re afraid that some of our comments may upset the imbalance of our political fabric. But I think more should surface and I shall try to send you more.

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