Labour Court Database
File Number: CD89699
Case Number: LCR12691
Section / Act: S67
Parties: UNIDARE CABLES LIMITED - and - IRISH TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION
Dispute concerning the transfer of a worker.
5. The Court having given careful consideration to the
submissions of the parties both oral and written finds that the
final decision regarding the compulsory transfer of members of
staff must lie with management.
If however good industrial relations are to be developed and
maintained the decision on compulsory transfers will require to be
seen to have been taken in a consistent and equitable manner.
In the case before the Court, given the circumstances which have
applied to transfers from the Drum Shop to the S.C.A., the
requirements of the jobs in the S.C.A. department and the length
of service of the employee concerned and the other employees in
the Drum Shop, it is considered that the claimant was
inappropriately selected for transfer and should be allowed to
resume his work in the Drum Shop.
The Court so recommends.
Division: MrMcGrath Mr Brennan Mr Devine
Text of Document__________________________________________________________________
CD89699 RECOMMENDATION NO. LCR12691
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1976
PARTIES: UNIDARE CABLES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE FEDERATION OF IRISH EMPLOYERS)
IRISH TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION
1. Dispute concerning the transfer of a worker.
2. In August, 1989 the Company decided to transfer the worker
concerned from the Drums/Carpentry section to a wire drawing
machine in the Steel Core Aluminium (S.C.A.) plant. The transfer
also included a move from day work to shift work. The worker
objected to the move on the grounds of seniority. The worker was
the second most senior man in terms of Drum Shop service and third
most senior in terms of overall site service. The Company
position was that he was the most suitable worker to transfer as
he had previous experience of wire drawing and it is management's
right to select the most suitable worker for a job. On 4th
September, 1989 the worker transferred under protest to S.C.A. to
allow the dispute to be processed through procedures. No
agreement was reached at local level and on 8th September, 1989
the matter was referred to the conciliation service of the Labour
Court. A conciliation conference was held on 2nd October, 1989 at
which no progress was made and on 3rd October, 1989 the matter was
referred to the Labour Court for investigation and recommendation.
The Court investigated the dispute on 22nd November, 1989.
3. 1. Some months before this transfer the Company stated that
the Drum Shop was overmanned and that one of the operatives
would have to be relocated. This was accepted and the most
junior worker agreed to transfer. In the case of this
transfer the Company initially sought volunteers. However, as
there were no volunteers the Company selected this worker and
disregarded custom and practice relating to seniority, whereby
in cases of compulsory transfer from one location to another
on site the most junior man in the department affected moves.
This worker has been on day work in the Drum Shop for eighteen
years and it is unreasonable for the Company to insist that he
transfer to a production plant as a machine operator on a two
shift cycle. By well established custom and practice the
worker has the right to retain his position in the Drum Shop.
3. 2. The Company has argued that clause 4.4 of the
Company/Union Agreement gives it the right to transfer the
worker. Clause 4.4 states that the Company cannot quarantee
work in the department first employed in or day work, shift
work etc. This clause does not give management the right to
ignore and disregard the well established seniority rights.
The Union is not arguing that the worker should have the
permanent right to work in the Drum Shop but that his
seniority gives him the right to such a guarantee while there
is still work there and when the Company has the option to
transfer workers who have less service. In the Company, both
before and after restructuring, seniority has always applied
for compulsory transfers. Since this dispute began the
Company has transferred another operative from Drums to
S.C.A., but in that case the most junior worker.
4. 1. The criteria to be used for selecting a worker for
transfer must always be suitability and it is management's
right and responsibility to assess such suitability and act
accordingly. It is a condition of employment that all workers
can be transferred to different work and between day work and
shift work. The custom and practice that the Union is seeking
to rely on in relation to that which may or may not have been
undertaken ceased when the Company became independent in 1988.
Since 1988 the Company has sought to change from the old
industrial relations practices and demarcations and become
more customer oriented in its practices.
2. This worker was chosen to move to the wire drawing job due
to the fact that he was the only one in the group who had wire
drawing experience. Management was of the opinion that he was
the most suitable worker for the position. The Company/Union
procedural agreement clearly states that there is no quarantee
that a worker will remain in the job first engaged in. All
parties have agreed that the Drum Shop is overmanned and it is
fortunate that surplus personnel from this area can be
absorbed elsewhere in the Company. Management has the right
to transfer workers based on the suitability of the workers
and the requirements of the business.