Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Belfast bus topple driver wins £37,000 for unfair dismissal

Firefighters at the scene of the double-decker bus crash outside Belfast's Central Station in 2011
Firefighters at the scene of the double-decker bus crash outside Belfast's Central Station in 2011

A bus driver who crashed and toppled his double decker after blacking out has won his claim for unfair dismissal.

The ex-Translink employee was awarded £37,585.50 in compensation after a tribunal concluded his redeployment to a job as a cleaner following the incident amounted to unfair dismissal.

It said the bus company acted unfairly when it redeployed Ernest Wardlow "on what appears to have been a take-it-or-leave-it basis".

Around 30 people were injured when the bus driven by Mr Wardlow overturned on Belfast's Albert Bridge on August 14, 2011.

After his black-out and a subsequent one at work, Mr Wardlow was redeployed to a position as a cleaner.

The tribunal concluded that he had been redeployed into a significantly different post from his own job and this amounted to unfair dismissal. Translink was ordered to pay him £37,585.50 in compensation.

A further claim on the part of the driver on the grounds of disability discrimination failed.

At the time, Mr Wardlow had to be cut from the vehicle that was travelling towards Belfast city centre when it mounted the kerb just outside Central Station and turned on its side shortly after 2pm.

A total of nine people were taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, including the driver.

Another 10 people attended the City Hospital, while eight were taken to the Mater.

Two children were transported to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and a pregnant woman was brought to the maternity unit at the Ulster Hospital.

Most of the injured passengers were treated for cuts, bruises and sprains.

One of the passengers was quoted as saying that the fact that no one was killed was "verging on the miraculous".

Anja Schoeppe had been on the top deck with her boyfriend when the crash happened.

"In the moment we were on the top floor of the bus so we fell all the way down, you didn't realise what had happened because it happened so quickly," she said.

"It obviously hit the wall, but how it toppled to that extent I can't say. All I remember is the bus starting to fall and people starting to scream."

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