War veteran sacked from B&Q for leaving till open

Emma Woollacott
Ivor Smith
Ivor Smith

An 82-year-old war veteran has been sacked from B&Q and frog-marched from the store after leaving his till open for three and a half minutes.

Despite having worked for the company for 12 years, great-grandfather Ivor Smith was given the boot from the Parkhead, Glasgow store.

"They treated me with utter contempt," he told an employment tribunal.

"I did my national service and served my country, and yet I get treated like this. I loved that job."

A father of seven, Ivor served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Malaya in 1955 and 1956. He worked for Hoover for 47 years, before taking on a job as a greeter at B&Q after retirement.

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But after a forklift ran over his foot in the store, leaving him with broken toes, Ivor was moved to check-out duties. He says he wasn't given any training.

And last August, he says, "A man wanted change of £200, which sounded a bit fishy, so I had to count and check the money. But I never left the immediate vicinity of the till at any time."

However, six days later, Ivor was told that he'd breached security by potentially allowing a thief to access the till. He was escorted from the building: "as if I was a common criminal," he says.

A B&Q spokeswoman has told the Daily Record that it can't comment, as the case is ongoing. However, she added, "B&Q have a strong track record of employing older workers."

Recent research has found that, in general, workers over the age of 50 are more reliable than their younger colleagues. They are less likely to take time off for ill-health, says research from insurer RIAS, and far less likely to throw a sickie.

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However, age discrimination is still rife, with more than half of workers believing that employers favour staff in their 20s. It's often unconscious, and it's hard to prove.

In fact, B&Q does have an excellent record when it comes to older workers. The company scrapped the compulsory retirement age in the mid-1990s and says that more than 30% of its current staff are over 50 - indeed, in 2013, it celebrated the 90th birthday of one employee.

"We have found that older workers have a great rapport with the customers, as well as a conscientious attitude and real enthusiasm for the job," chief executive Ian Cheshire said in 2006.

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