INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Alleged unfair dismissals.
2. The Company manufactures hearing aid devices and employs approximately 100 workers at its plant in Cork. In 1995 a number of temporary workers were recruited to deal with a backlog in customer orders. The Company states that it was made clear to the workers, both verbally and in writing, that the employment was temporary. In November, 1995, Management informed staff that the backlog was almost cleared and, in December, 1995, terminated the contracts of nine workers. The Union's claim, on behalf of four of the workers, is that the workers concerned were unfairly selected for dismissal and seek reinstatement.
The Union sought to refer the dispute to the Labour Relations Commission for conciliation but the Company refused to attend. The Union then referred the dispute to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. The Labour Court investigated the dispute on 21st August, 1996, in Cork.
3. 1. The Company's official reason for dismissing the staff concerned was a lack of work. However, there has since been overtime on Saturdays and new staff are currently being recruited.
2. Although the Company operated a loose clock-in/clock-out system, and it was common practice for workers to clock-out their colleagues, when reprimanded for doing so the workers concerned accepted responsibility and received a written warning for their actions. A member of Management later admitted to employees that the real reason for their dismissal was because of the warnings on their files.
3. One of the four workers concerned did not receive any formal warnings on the quality or competence of his work and was not involved in the clocking-out incident. The Company has stated in references supplied to the workers that they were reliable, experienced workers. They should, therefore, be reinstated to the existing vacancies.
4. 1. The production process requires a controlled, quiet environment and each employee must possess a high level of patience and concentration in order to manufacture medical devices to the required standard. The criteria used to determine which employees would be retained was, therefore, based on performance, co-operation and conduct.
2. Each of the four employees were given regular feedback on their work performances. They were informed that their output levels, quality standards and general application were not meeting the normal standards of the Company. Three of the four workers were also reprimanded for constant talking which was disrupting both their own work and that of other employees.
3. The Company notified the staff of the termination of their contracts as early as possible, offered them the option of finishing immediately if they chose with full pay for ten days, informed them of three employers within the electronics industry who were recruiting staff at the time and provided each of them with references. It is also open to them to apply for future vacancies if they arise.
Having considered the submissions the Court has concluded that the Company acted within its rights when laying-off the claimants who were recruited on a temporary basis. The Court notes that the Company stated it was open to the claimants to apply for a further appointment if vacancies arise.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th September, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.