INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
AER RIANTA - SHANNON
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. ST206/96 concerning the suspension of a worker.
2. The worker concerned is employed as a plumber by Aer Rianta at Shannon Airport. He is attached to the Buildings Maintenance Section.
On 26th May, 1996 a serious leakage of water and sewage was observed on the floor of the ladies toilet in the arrivals terminal.
Following an investigation into the incident management concluded that the worker had been extremely negligent in the way he carried out temporary repairs when the leak had been reported earlier on the day in question.
On 20th May, 1996 the worker was informed that he would be suspended without pay for a period of seven days with effect from 4th June, 1996.
The matter was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On 27th February, 1997 the Rights Commissioner recommended as follows:-
"I recommend that, in the circumstances as outlined above, Aer Rianta should reduce the period of unpaid suspension from five working days to three and that the Union should accept this amendment as a resolution of this dispute."
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation was appealed by the Union to the Labour Court on 27th March, 1997 under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Labour Court heard the appeal in Limerick on 21st May, 1997.
3. 1. The worker took appropriate action in carrying out temporary repairs on the day in question. The job carried out was safe and nothing should have happened, even over an extended period of time.
2. The toilets where the leakage occurred have been vandalised on a number of occasions. It is the Union's contention that the flooding was caused by vandalism.
3. In the period 1980 to 1994 management had no complaints with the worker's job performance. The Union is concerned that following a change in the management structure in 1994, there has been an attempt to tarnish the worker's good reputation and he has been the victim of continuous harassment by certain members of management.
4. Managment's unfair treatment of the worker has caused him considerable stress. In the circumstances the Union is seeking that the suspension be removed from his record.
4. 1. Management took a serious view of the incident because of the location of the toilet in a prime public area. It considered that the repair should have been carried out immediately and that it was extremely negligent to leave a toilet waste in such condition that it would overflow.
2. The worker claims that he removed the damaged bowl and stuffed the waste pipe. No plug was found either in the pipe or in the area adjacent to the toilet. When the damage was discovered the worker was contacted at his home. He returned to the airport and fitted the new toilet bowl. This took less than one hour.
3. The worker's case was dealt with under agreed disciplinary procedures. He was afforded every opportunity to answer the charges against him. His explanations were not acceptable to management. His negligence in this matter warranted the disciplinary action imposed. The Company requests the Court to uphold the suspension as imposed by management.
Having considered all the evidence presented in this case, the Court finds that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is reasonable in the circumstances.
The Court therefore upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.