INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
EMERALD CONTRACT CLEANERS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY MANAGEMENT SUPPORT SERVICES)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Issues affecting a shop steward.
2. The dispute concerns one worker employed in the Company's window-cleaning section. The Union claims that the Company has acted unreasonably in its general attitude (details supplied to the Court) towards the worker on the grounds of his being shop steward and health and safety representative. The Company's response is that it has not at any time, questioned the worker's intentions regarding the carrying out of his duties but believes that, because of the position he held, he may have exceeded his authority as an individual on occasions, and put management in a difficult position. At present the worker is off work due to illness. The Union is seeking that he be considered to have been constructively dismissed and that he be paid compensation. The Company indicated that there is a position for the worker to return to when he has recovered from his illness. It rejects the claim that he has been constructively dismissed. The Union referred the matter to the Labour Court, on the 2nd of April, 1997, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court carried out its investigation on the 22nd of May, 1997.
3. 1. Arising from local difficulties in relation to the negotiation of job prices, relations deteriorated between the worker and management. Through various methods, the Company sought to bring about a situation which would lead to the worker's departure from the Company.
2. The Company has continually denied the worker access to overtime. Following a Rights Commissioner's investigation of that particular matter, the worker's position was upheld and he was awarded compensation. Despite this, the Company still discriminates against the worker in relation to his overtime entitlements.
3. The Company regularly sought to place the worker in jobs where he could not attain a reasonable level of earnings. This was a fundamental change from the regime which existed whereby good-paying work was allocated with poorly-priced work (details supplied to the Court).
4. In relation to alleged incidents of abuse, bullying, assault and misrepresentation levelled by the Company against the worker (details supplied), the Company's allegations are emphatically denied.
5. The worker has worked tirelessly as health and safety representative, in order to ensure that the highest standards were maintained at all times. He does not believe that the Company have been as committed in pursuance of such standards as he himself was (details supplied).
4. 1. The Company has, at all times, facilitated the worker in the carrying out of his duties and, furthermore, the Company has, on a one to one basis, sat down with him in relation to outstanding issues. When these matters have been concluded they have then fallen through due to "misunderstandings" which have arisen, or confusion within the workforce as to exactly what issues were agreed or who was entitled to agree them.
2. The worker held the position of Shop Steward during a very volatile time in the Company's history. As an employee spokesman he would have been involved in more discussions and arguments with management than any of the other employees because he was acting on their behalf, with his Union.
However, the Company strongly refutes that he was picked upon and treated differently in any way as a result of his being a shop steward. He brought upon himself a number of difficulties by his own actions, whether it was during discussions with management or due to the manner in which he carried out his work.
The Court has considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their oral and written submissions. The Court recommends that the Company pay to the worker concerned a lump sum in the amount of £400 in full and final settlement of his claim and urges that, as soon as he is fit, he return to his employment.
With a view to further disputes being avoided and in the interests of creating an acceptable industrial relations climate in the Company, the Court recommends that as a matter of urgency both parties seek to resolve outstanding issues.
If necessary the parties should seek the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th of June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.