20 Nov 2015

Labourer who used synthetic cannabis awarded $2000

2:08 pm on 20 November 2015

A labourer deemed to have been unfairly sacked despite being caught smoking synthetic cannabis on the job has won $2000 in costs.

Synthetic cannabis products must be pulled from sale from midnight Wednesday.

The labourer denied smoking the synthetic drug but then behaved oddly on the job (file). Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Nico Wiremu denied smoking the synthetic drug in a portaloo when he was confronted by his boss while laying new drains along a central Christchurch street in March last year.

He was then asked to set up some road cones, and instead sat in the middle of a busy intersection.

A co-worker said Mr Wiremu called him a "cone", and was "swaying from left to right, walking real slow and did not look healthy to be on site".

Core Infrastructure dismissed Mr Wiremu, despite a drug test returning negative.

Despite Mr Wiremu's protestations, the Employment Relations Authority found he had indeed been smoking the synthetic cannabis K2.

But because the drug test didn't cover synthetic cannabis, according to the company's drug policy, he should have only been given a warning.

Nevertheless, the authority reduced Mr Wiremu's payout by 75 percent because of his behaviour.