A freight company has been ordered to pay compensation to the boss it sacked after he bought beers for his workers as a thank you for their hard work.

Mark Stilwell, 46, a shift manager, lost his job at Freightliner of Wilton, near Redcar, east Cleveland,when he told staff that bosses had refused them a cash bonus.

He had asked that his four staff be paid an extra £1.05 an hour when the rail depot lost power and the men had to work using manual machines for three days.

Staffing levels were already down from eight to four and the men dealt with two extra train services as well as their usual work.

Mr Stilwell, who was earning £30,000 a year, asked that his team be given the extra money, but the request was turned down. Instead, he bought each of the workers a crate of beer each, including lager and a variety of different beers, from his own pocket. He also gave each of them a letter which criticised the company's decision not to pay the bonus.

The shift manager, who lives at Ormesby, near Middlesbrough, was summoned to a hearing one week later and was instantly dismissed on June 22 last year for failing to comply with a manager's request and gross insubordination.

His case was taken up by the RMT union and a tribunal was held at Thornaby.

It ruled that while the company did have grounds to dismiss Mr Stilwell, it had ignored disciplinary procedures. As a result, Freightliner was ordered to pay Mr Stilwell £1,215.

Mr Stilwell, who now has another job as a shift supervisor at TDG Chemicals, said he was disappointed with the cash payout because the company had offered him £6,000 as an out-of-court settlement the previous week.

He said: "I'm disappointed with the money, but this was really about clearing my name. I had some support from my former colleagues and I'm just glad that justice was finally done and my name is clear."

A spokeswoman for Freightliner stressed that the tribunal had found that Mr Stilwell had contributed to his own downfall.

She said: "The tribunal judgement said the dismissal was 50 per cent down to Mr Stilwell himself. We only lost on a technical point about our own disciplinary procedures."