INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
WATERFORD CARPETS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation BC233/96.
2. The worker was employed by the Company on a series of temporary contracts from March, 1984 to January, 1990. In March, 1990 he was employed on a permanent basis. In January, 1992, following the death of his wife, the worker developed a pattern of absenteeism and late time-keeping. The problems became worse and, the Union acknowledges, the worker refused help offered by the Company and Union.
The Company terminated the worker's employment on 5th January, 1995. He did not contest his dismissal at the time. Following the dismissal, the worker secured medical support and counselling. Following an appeal from the Union, the Company agreed to take the worker back for a 6 month period, beginning in May, 1995. Four other workers commenced similar 6 month contracts in January, 1995.
The Company maintains that it was clearly explained to the worker that the contract was temporary. At the end of the 6 month period, the worker's contract was extended for 6 weeks but was terminated on 23rd December, 1995. He has returned to work for the Company for occasional short periods since then.
The worker approached the Company and Union claiming that on, a seniority basis, he should not be let go as his cumulative service since 1984 should be taken into account.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commission, and a hearing took place on 7th August, 1996. The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is as follows:-
"In summary, therefore, whilst one can have sympathy with the claimant's personal plight, there are no substantive grounds whatsoever to justify his claim and I must, therefore, recommend that it fails."
The Union appealed the Recommendation to the Labour Court on 7th October, 1996, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on 8th April, 1997, in Waterford.
3. 1. The Company acknowledge that the worker was an excellent employee during both his temporary and permanent employment. He did not contest his dismissal in January, 1995, because he was so ill at the time. He acknowledges that the Company was very tolerant of him at the time of his problems. Since he got help, his record with the Company has improved considerably and his return to work was part of his ongoing recovery. If he remains as a junior temporary employee he could eventually be let go from the Company on a permanent basis. The worker has a number of years of permanent employment which should be taken into account and he feels that he should be re-employed.
4. 1. The worker's termination of employment in January, 1995, was clearly understood by both himself and the Union and was not contested by either party. The Company agreed to re-employ him following a request from the Union. Again, it was clearly understood that it was a temporary 6 month contract and that he would occupy the position of least seniority. A number of other workers who are employed on similar contracts were also let go. If the worker were to come back on a permanent basis it would mean another employee would have to be let go and the Company is not willing to do this. The worker's attendance record during his 6 month contract in 1995 was not very good.
The Court has considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their oral and written submissions. The Court notes the efforts made by both parties in relation to this employee, and also notes the views expressed by the agencies on his behalf.
The Court notes the arrangements made in respect of the employee and his aquiescence to these arrangements. It is the view of the Court that, subject to a satisfactory record being maintained, the Company should seek to maximise the employment of the claimant and, in the event of a permanent vacancy becoming available, should give him sympathetic consideration.
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is amended accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th May, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.