Dublin Bus driver appeals dismissal for breaking ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on phone use behind wheel

Yong Yue Wang was on final written warning for earlier breach when allegedly spotted holding device by inspector

07/09/2016 - NEWS - Image from the Ringsend Bus Garage this evening as services were suspended and busses returned to the depot Dublin Bus Stock . Photograph Nick Bradshaw

A driver sacked by Dublin Bus after it was decided he had broken the company’s “zero-tolerance” policy on using a mobile phone behind the wheel twice in under a year is now working as a taxi driver, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has heard.

Yong Yue Wang has taken a case to the WRC under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 in an attempt to get his job at the transport firm back following his dismissal for gross misconduct in September 2022.

The tribunal heard Mr Wang was already on a final written warning for an earlier mobile phone incident when a bus inspector reported seeing him driving a 15B bus along Townsend Street with his left hand on the steering wheel and a phone in his right hand in July 2022.

Mr Wang denied this version of events and insisted that the phone always was in his pocket. Dublin Bus argues that it was entitled to conclude that he “was not telling the truth”.


Kiwana Ennis BL, instructed by CIÉ solicitor Hugh Hannon, for Dublin Bus, said the zero-tolerance policy on using mobile phones and electronic devices was resisted by drivers’ trade unions but got the backing of the Labour Court in 2016. It provides for sanctions up to and including dismissal for even a single breach.

Joe Stobie, area operations manager at Mr Wang’s former base depot at Summerhill, said the complainant “pleaded” for his job after admitting to driving a number 16 bus away from a stop in Harold’s Cross while holding his phone in November 2021.

A chief bus inspector in plain clothes reported seeing Mr Wang holding a phone in his right hand and hearing a “two-way conversation between the driver and the person on the other end”, Mr Stobie said, adding that this was “not only illegal, but unsafe”.

Mr Stobie said Mr Wang explained to him during a disciplinary meeting in January 2022 that there had been a family emergency on that occasion. The driver had been “very open and honest” when they met and promised not to use his phone again while driving, the witness said.

Mr Wang received a three-day unpaid suspension and had a final written warning attached to his file, which was to last 18 months.

However, in July 2022, a second chief inspector, David McCarthy, reported seeing Mr Wang holding his phone while driving a 15B bus down Townshend Street. He said that after speaking to Mr Wang when the bus reached Merrion Square, Mr Wang said: “Maybe you’ve seen my radio in my hand.”

Minutes submitted to the tribunal recorded Mr Wang telling an investigator that he might have been picking up the phone after it fell from his pocket and subsequently stating that he had placed the phone on the dashboard of the bus with his wallet and a Bluetooth speaker.

“I felt if he was listening to music with the phone face-up and an array of electronic devices on the dash, I’d see that as a flagrant breach of the safety policy,” Mr Stobie said.

He said a collective agreement with drivers’ unions precluded Dublin Bus from using CCTV from the driver’s cab in disciplinary cases without consent – an option Mr Wang had not taken up.

Kieran Falvey BL, for Mr Wang, played the relevant footage for the hearing and said it was “useless” because his client’s right hand was out of sight throughout the relevant three-minute period.

In a closing submission, Ms Ennis said: “It’s very, very telling that [Mr Wang] didn’t use the CCTV in order to exonerate himself… in fact, the reason he came up with the falling off the dashboard line was because he thought the CCTV did show him using his phone.”

Mr Falvey argued there were “defects” in the Dublin Bus disciplinary procedures going back to the first incident, when he said Mr Wang’s right of appeal had effectively been “taken away” before the severity of the sanction was confirmed. He said it was clear Mr Wang, a Chinese national and not a native English speaker, also had the disadvantage of “some language barriers” and that the area manager ought to have recused himself from the second disciplinary process.

“It’s a technical appeal, it’s about the procedures and I don’t believe fair procedures were adopted in this case,” Mr Falvey said.

Questioned about his efforts to seek new work, Mr Wang said he had been unwell for a time early last year but had secured a licence to drive a taxi and was now earning around €700 a week.

WRC adjudicator Breiffni O’Neill closed the hearing and told the parties he would issue his decision in a number of weeks.

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