INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal by the Union against Rights Commissioner's recommendation No. CW 189/96.
2. The appeal concerns a worker who has been employed by the Company for twenty two years. In 1994 he applied for redundancy under the Company's Voluntary Severance Scheme. The Company initially thought that it could accept the worker's application after a suitable replacement had been found. Eventually however the Company informed the worker that it could not release him. The Union claimed that the worker was unfairly treated. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. On the 30th January, 1997 the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:
"In the circumstances, I therefore recommend the following:
- (a) If the Company can now facilitate Mr. Daly's early departure from the Company on or before 30 June 1997, they should allow him to leave with his full entitlements under the Voluntary Severance Scheme and in addition, pay him an ex gratia sum of £2,000 in compensation for the stress and inconvenience caused to Mr. Daly by the events giving rise to this Hearing;
(b) If it is not possible to allow Mr. Daly to leave by 30 June 1997, the Company should pay Mr. Daly an ex gratia sum of £5,000."
On the 28th February, 1997 the Union appealed the Recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal in Cork on the 11th June, 1997.
3. 1. From the time of the worker's application for the redundancy package in 1994 all indications were that his application was being accepted.
2. Applying for the redundancy was a major decision for the worker who made plans in consultation with his family. The Company's decision to reject his application had a traumatic effect on the worker.
3. Other workers' applications were accepted, the worker concerned was the only worker to have his application rejected.
4. The 'essential skills' referred to by the Company as an argument for the worker's retention is not verifiable as can be ascertained from recent events (details to the Court).
5. While the Union accepts that the redundancy package was voluntary and that Management may determine to whom it should apply, its treatment of the worker over a period of 18 months was wholly unacceptable and unfair to him.
6. The Union is seeking that the worker be allowed to avail of the redundancy package on offer as it applied in November, 1994.
4. 1. The worker was not released under the Voluntary Severance Scheme because the Company could not fill his position with a suitable applicant from inside the plant and in a manner that would not involve external recruitment. The Company genuinely attempted to accommodate his request for voluntary redundancy. These efforts failed, and as no redundancy situation now exists the worker's application cannot be accommodated.
2. An application for voluntary redundancy is not a binding contract. An application did not automatically mean that the Company could grant redundancy.
3. The Company, while accepting that the worker had reason to believe that he would receive redundancy, strongly believes that the compensation award of £5000 recommended by the Rights Commissioner is not justified. By remaining at work the claimant already earned more in net pay than the redundancy payment. In addition his Pension AVC's have doubled with the assistance of a substantial bonus which he would not have received had he left. His Company pension entitlements are increasing each year that he remains in the employment.
4. The worker continues to enjoy a permanent, highly paid pensionable position. The Company believes that compensation is not appropriate.
The Court notes that the parties are at present discussing the implementation of an early retirement package. In the event that such a package be of benefit to Mr. Daly he should be allowed avail of it forthwith.
In the circumstances outlined and if the package referred to above does not benefit him the Court finds that the Rights Commissioner's recommendation is not unreasonable and should be upheld.
The Court accordingly rejects the appeal and so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.