Kenilworth abattoir worker awarded more than £14,000 after unfair dismissal

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A Kenilworth abattoir slaughterman has been awarded more than £14,000 for unfair dismissal after denying he punched an agency worker during an alleged confrontation.

Birmingham Employment Tribunal was told there was an incident at Farmers Fresh Ltd in Rouncil Lane where there had allegedly been a history of tension between full-time employees and agency workers.

Paul Baker, 46, who lived in a caravan on the site, was accused of punching the agency worker and leaving him with a bloody nose.

Mr Baker, who had 12 years full time service, was suspended and eventually dismissed for misconduct despite claiming he ‘did not touch him.’

He made a claim for unfair dismissal and said he was now unemployed and suffering from stress.

Some witnesses said there had been verbal abuse between the two men and that there had been ‘pushing, shoving and a scuffle’ before an employee intervened.

Tribunal judge Mrs Jayne Connolly said a serious allegation had been made against Mr Baker but that evidence from witnesses had been inconsistent.

She said: “Some witnesses claimed Mr Baker’s apron was pulled, that there had been some spitting and that the agency worker had climbed on to a stand towards Mr Baker. But only one witness said he saw a punch.

“Witnesses should have been asked more questions about the alleged incident although it was likely that some form of physical contact took place.”

She decided Mr Baker had been unfairly dismissed but she warned she would be reducing his award by 20 per cent. He was awarded £14,832.

Mr Baker was then asked what efforts he had made to find another job and was accused by the respondents at one stage of not doing enough to find employment.

When told he could get a job as a labourer Mr Baker replied: “It’s like asking an unemployed solicitor to become a painter and decorator.

He said he had one job lined up but the firm pulled out at the last minute.

He added: “I’ve made efforts to find work without success and at present I am being treated for stress by my GP.”