INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
CLONLARA WHOLESALE LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. 651/96
2. The Company is a wholesale food and drink company. The worker has been employed since 1982 and works as a goods-inward checker. The Union claims that the following happened:-
On the 17th October, 1996 a representative from Kelloggs was in attendance at the Company's premises. The worker was returning six cases of Kelloggs products which had passed their sell-by date. The Kelloggs representative asked for a credit form for the six cases and told the worker that he could take six cases for his greyhounds, or else they would be thrown in the skip. The worker would normally ask management if he could take returns of Kelloggs products. On this occasion senior management was not on the premises so he asked the store manager who told him that he could take the cases.
On the afternoon of 17th October, the general manager asked for the six cases to be brought to the front office. He was informed by the operations manager that the worker had taken them home at lunch-time after been given permission by the Kelloggs representative. On the 18th October, following a meeting, the worker was suspended with pay pending further investigation. Following two further meetings, the Company issued the worker with a final written warning and five days of unpaid suspension.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner and a hearing took place on 13th January, 1997. Following is the Rights Commissioner's recommendation:-
"In the circumstances, I recommend that the final written warning should stand but that the period of unpaid suspension should be annulled."
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on 3rd March, 1997, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on 31st July, 1997, in Limerick.
3. 1. The worker did ask for permission - from the Kelloggs representative and the store manager - to take the six cases of products. He had done this in the past and it had never been a problem. As the general manager was not on the premises he asked the store manager, who was the most senior person present. The Company received the credit for the six cases from Kelloggs on 28th October, 1996, so there was no loss involved. The worker had been getting similiar out-of-date products for a number of years.
4. 1. The worker did not receive authorised permission to take the six cases. Permission comes from the general manager, who was not present on the morning of 17th October. The worker is aware of this as he has received goods in the past after receiving prior permission from the general manager. The Kelloggs representative does not have authority to give products to staff members. The worker informed the store manager that he was taking the cases, he did not ask his permission.
2. The Company views the removal of goods without authority as a serious offence. It considered terminating the worker's employment as it was not the first time that there were problems with the worker's conduct, but instead opted to issue a final written warning and one week's unpaid suspension, which it considers very fair in the circumstances.
The Court, having considered the submissions of the parties, upholds the Rights Commissioner's recommendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd August, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.