INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
SUNPAK AND MAYFIELD FRESH PRODUCE LIMITED
- AND -
MS. CAROLINE DINEEN
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The Company is a distributor of fresh fruit and vegetables. It employs 100 workers. Between April 1996 and December 1996 the Company suffered a severe downturn in business. A number of workers were made redundant and an agreed severance package was paid to these workers. The worker concerned commenced employment with the Company as a Sales Administrative Assistant on the 25th March, 1996. She was on a three months probation period. She was dismissed on the 9th January, 1997. The worker claimed that she was unfairly dismissed and sought to refer the issue to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. The Company objected to such an investigation. On the 13th February, 1997 the worker referred the dispute to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held in Cork on the 11th June, 1997.
3. 1. The worker completed her probationary period without incident. She had a good record in the employment, and received no warnings written or verbal. Her supervisor attested that the employee's work was satisfactory.
2. The Company retained other workers in the employment who had less service than the claimant. It did not implement a 'last in first out' policy. When the worker queried Management's decision she was abruptly told "it was the Company's decision". The worker's post was subsequently filled by another worker.
3. The worker was treated in an arbitrary and unjust manner. She seeks appropriate redress.
4. 1. Because of a severe downturn in business the Company was forced to rationalise its operations. This resulted in the loss of jobs. The worker concerned was one of a number of employees affected by this rationalisation.
2. The claimant had the least service in the administrative area. She was selected fairly for redundancy. Because of her short service no redundancy payment was due to her.
3. The worker did not have longer service than another worker whom the claimant maintains should have been made redundant. Both were employed on the same date, in addition, the other worker was employed as a telesales operator and this position was not redundant. In this position the other worker had built up experience and contacts with client companies and she could not easily be replaced.
4. The Company had no option but to terminate the worker's employment as a result of a downturn in its business. She was fairly treated and received her statutory entitlements.
Having considered the submissions from the parties the Court recommends that the terms of the voluntary redundancy package which was previously in place be applied to Ms. Dineen.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.