London bus driver sacked after exiting vehicle to get coffee

London bus driver exiting vehicle with passengers on board to get coffee

A London bus driver exited his vehicle to get coffee while passengers were on board (Image: Au Morandarte/Wiki)

A London bus driver has been sacked after abandoning a bus full of passengers to get a coffee and use the toilet at a nearby cafe.

Ian Brown, who had already been cautioned for failing to attend, delayed the bus as a result of the incident, a labor tribunal has heard.

When the inspector called him to ask why the bus was late, Mr Brown said he was being bullied, refused to go on and abandoned the vehicle at a nearby station.

CCTV footage also showed Mr Brown running a red light after being distracted by reading a letter inviting him to a disciplinary hearing.

The new iconic buses on the streets of London, the red double decker Routemaster buses. They were introduced in 1956. Today the buses are powered by hybrid electric diesel engines. The red bus becomes one of the symbols of London and a symbol of Great Britain. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Ian Brown tried to claim his controller bullied him and stormed out of the vehicle when asked why he was late (Picture: Getty)

Mr Brown was heard accusing his boss of bullying him and that he was entitled to payment while he was suspended.

He said: The constant bullying and harassment of the “controllers” on duty goes unnoticed. Are you saying that I am not entitled to a bathroom break or get paid while I am ill? This is not self-abolition, but stress under duress.”

Both the footage and Mr Brown’s attendance records were later reviewed at a misconduct hearing, resulting in the driver’s sacking on August 11, 2020.

However, his appeal for wrongful termination by Arriva London North also failed, as the arbitral tribunal of February 22 and 23, 2023 found.

A sentencing report from Judge Tuck KC’s tribunal was posted online this month and read: “On March 13, 2020, the plaintiff was driving a double-decker bus on Route 243.

Ms Bishop’s statement says he was late to take charge of the bus – around 2.17pm – and then left it unsecured at a bus stop with the engine running and passengers on board while he went to the cafe to use the toilet and to get a hot drink, booth not left before 2:21 p.m.

“As far as I know, this was agreed by the plaintiff, who also confirmed that his work was to start at 2.14pm.

“CCTV from a camera in the bus cabin from 2:22 p.m. to 2:23 p.m. shows the applicant opening a sealed envelope while the bus appears to be stationary, then the moving bus shows the applicant taking pages that had been in the envelope and she opens it folded to A4 format and leafs through the pages.

“The video surveillance shows that when the folded papers were unfolded, the complainant flashed his indicator light when it should have been turned off, and a second video surveillance same minute (about 10 seconds later) shows that the complainant broke in the same way as he did at a traffic light approached shows that the traffic light changes from amber to red at least 3 seconds before the claimant reaches the stop line and the claimant crosses the intersection.

“There is no question that the letter in the complainant’s hand and shown during this CCTV footage was the March 12 letter summoning him to a disciplinary hearing.”

According to the verdict, the inspector told Mr Brown that refusing to continue driving would be ‘self-hanging’, to which the driver replied: ‘I’m not stopping, you’re bullying me and I’m not fit for the drive. You can pick up the bus at Seven Sisters.

Mr Brown then got off the bus at Seven Sisters station, where he stayed until picked up by another driver, the verdict said.

Mr Tuck concluded: “I am satisfied that the dismissal was within the range of reasonable responses. In addition, I would have found that the plaintiff contributed 100 percent to his dismissal.”

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Justin Scacco

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