THE boss of Swan Transit has refused to back down over his company’s allegation that bus driver Gerard Sin was to blame for the vicious attack in which he lost an eye.
The Sunday Times revealed last week that in papers lodged with the District Court to fight a compensation bid, the bus operator claimed the 62-year-old driver was at fault because he failed to take “adequate care for his own safety”.
The Thornlie bus driver is suing his employer for negligence after he was punched and pelted with a chunk of concrete as he drove the No.250 route in Armadale on July 31, 2009. He suffered serious facial injuries and was blinded in his left eye, requiring a prosthetic eye to be fitted.
This week, Swan Transit director Neil Smith stood by the defence put forward by his insurance lawyers accusing Mr Sin of provoking the youth who attacked him while on the job.
Mr Smith said the company had supported Mr Sin from “day one”, but he strongly rejected the lawsuit’s claim that Swan Transit was negligent or that compensation should be paid.
“The claim against us is stating that we are negligent,” Mr Smith said. “We are saying that we are not negligent that is the only thing going on in court.”
Mr Smith rejected suggestions that he had failed to provide for his employee or had treated him poorly, but he signalled that the court case could go to a full District Court trial.
“We have gone far beyond what our legal responsibilities are,” Mr Smith said.
“We have ensured that he has a full-time job, we have changed the work that he is doing; he is doing work at the present where that job is basically custom-built for him, and it is not something that we make money out of.
“We have created a position to give him support, and that is the purpose of workers’ compensation.”
A PerthNow poll this week, which asked the public whether Swan Transit should compensate Mr Sin, found that 93 per cent of the 4642 respondents said it should.
A mere 3 per cent said no, while another 3 per cent responded that it depended on the amount.
Asked whether he would allow the case to continue to a trial rather than attempt to settle the lawsuit out of court, Mr Smith replied: “There is a process in place and that process will run its course.”
He added: “The aim of workers’ compensation is not about payout it’s about getting people back into work.”
Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the lawsuit was a matter between Mr Sin, his employer, and the insurance company, and he would not comment on the merits of the case.
Opposition transport spokesman Ken Travers said the Government should intervene in Mr Sin’s case. He said transport operators should look after their employees.
“You can’t allow members of the community who are providing a public service to be injured at work, then have the Government walk away from their responsibilities because they have privatised the service,” he said.