Pejazyr Cakolli was last week awarded €50,000 by the Labour Court after it found that he was unfairly dismissed by Swissport Ireland Ltd over his refusal to drive vehicles that did not carry insurance or tax disks on publically-accessible roads at Shannon Airport.
In an interview, Mr Cakolli said his dismissal and his two-year fight at the Labour Court and Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) have taken a tremendous toll on him. Mr Cakolli said that following his dismissal “I was psychologically very poor”.
Employed with Swissport Ireland since 2005 before his dismissal in 2015, Mr Cakolli said he was “really happy” with the Labour Court outcome which overturned an earlier adjudication officer’s decision which found in Swissport Ireland’s favour.
Mr Cakolli said he was “shocked” when sacked in 2015 for refusing to drive the company vehicle: “I was 100% sure that they wouldn’t sack me over it.”
Mr Cakolli lives in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare, with his wife and their seven-year-old boy, Zyhdi, who is profoundly deaf and will require surgery for a second cochlear implant later this month.
Mr Cakolli — who was born in Kosovo, brought up in Poland but has attained Irish citizenship since moving here in 2003 — said he is now optimistic he can get new work after being vindicated in the Labour Court.
He said that over the last two years and in the row with Swissport while still employed there, he took strength from his late grandfather who spent the Second World War in a Nazi concentration camp after saying “no” to an offer to join the German army.
Mr Cakolli’s grandfather was freed in 1945 and led a normal life and got married and had a family.
The Cakollis took out a mortgage for their new home in 2015 and he had to tell his wife of his difficult decision to refuse the drive the company vehicles which cost him his job: “The job was very important to me and we had just bought a new home but I couldn’t continue to drive the company vehicles.”
Swissport still has time to appeal the Labour Court decision and a spokeswoman for Swissport said yesterday: “We are disappointed by this judgment, which is contrary to the findings from the original hearing.
"We are certain that all of our vehicles and drivers were appropriately insured to be driven on roads where the public have access.
“We are currently considering the options open to us in light of legal advice and therefore it is inappropriate to comment further at this point.”
Ennis-based solicitor, Conor Glendon, who represented Mr Cakolli, said: “Pejazyr did the right thing and unfortunately, he has paid a penalty for it in losing his job. No amount of money can compensate him for the loss of his career and certainly not €50,000.”