INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation ST66/96.
2. Workers in the Company who have an attendance record of 95% or higher have the option of purchasing uncut crystal and cutting same using their own design. The Company claims that the worker concerned chose 18 items of stemware plus 3 spares, with the intention of cutting 6 balloon wine glasses, 6 outsize wine glasses and 6 hock glasses. The 6 hock glasses were not available at the time. The worker subsequently cut through one of the spares.
On 15th December, 1995, the worker asked for a transfer docket (authorisation form) to transfer 12 glasses outside of the plant. The security officer checked the box in which the worker was transferring the glasses and discovered that there were 14 glasses, not 12 as authorised. The worker stated that a mistake had been made in the packing and removed 2 glasses, 1 balloon type and 1 outsize glass. The Company claims that the security man immediately reported the incident.
On the 18th December, 1995, the worker was interviewed in connection with the incident under the misconduct clause of the Company's 1992 terms and conditions of employment agreement. Following an investigation, the worker was suspended without pay for a period of 9 working days, issued with a final written warning and debarred from availing of the attendance award scheme in future.
The Union referred the matter to a Rights Commissioner and a hearing took place on 26th August, 1996. The Rights Commissioner's recommendation is as follows:-
"I recommend that the Union and the worker accept the Company
decision in this instance."
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 3rd October, 1996, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 17th December, 1996, in Waterford.
3. 1. When the security officer pointed out to the worker that he had 14 glasses instead of 12, the worker stated that there must have been a mistake in packing, and that the 2 spares were packed in error. Spares are not normally packed. The security officer did not indicate that there was a problem. The worker selected the 2 spare glasses. The security officer did not confiscate them. If an employee is suspected of removing products without authorisation, he is requested by security to remain on the premises until the matter is reported to personnel. In this case, the worker concerned was allowed to leave the plant and no mention was made of the incident until three days later.
2. There was an onus on the supervisor in the area to advise the worker to go to the designated stemware plant and have his glasses packed there. Had this been done, only 12 glasses would have been packed and the present dispute would not have happened.
3. The worker concerned was out of work on 15th December and went in to collect the glasses at 2.30 p.m. The packing chargehand was already informed that there were 2 spare glasses. The worker packed the glasses without counting them and proceeded to the security office. It was a simple error, not a deliberate attempt to remove 2 extra glasses. The worker was 26 years with the Company and had an excellent record.
4. 1. The Company loses a substantial amount of its product each year through pilferage, and views any theft very seriously. On the 12th December, the worker cut 7 balloon glasses and 8 outsize glasses i.e., a total of 15. As he still had 6 blank hock glasses to collect it meant he had taken 3 glasses more than the 18 he was entitled to. The worker claims that he took the 3 spares in case he cut-through some of the glass. It is normal practice, where a worker cuts-through a glass, that it is replaced after the event rather than before. A 16% - 33% level of "cut-through", which is the rationale argued by the worker, would be most unusual and would be unacceptable.
2. The worker made no reference to the 2 spare glasses when he asked his supervisor for the transfer docket. The security officer confiscated the 2 extra glasses and immediately reported the incident to personnel.
3. The worker had sole responsibility for ensuring that the correct amount of glasses were packed. He should have checked that the 2 spare glasses were not accidentally included in the box. When questioned by the security officer, he stated that he was due another 4 glasses, (hock glasses). He did not mention the 2 spare glasses. He could have asked the security officer to phone the chargehand to verify that the 2 spares had been packed accidentally. He did not do so.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties, believes that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation was not unreasonable in this case.
The Court, therefore, upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommmendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th January, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.