INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
ABBEYFEALE COMMUNITY LEISURE LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY DERMOT G O'DONOVAN & PARTNERS, SOLICITORS)
- AND -
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. ST433/95.
2. The appeal concerns one worker who, through a FAS scheme, was employed with the employer, from April, 1995 to August, 1995. The Union claimed that he had been badly treated and unfairly dismissed by the employer in that a difficult personal circumstance of his had been dealt with unsympathetically. The worker, it was claimed, had to endure a series of insults and harassment and was due compensation and an apology. The employer side's position was that on the scheme eighteen volunteer workers had been supplemented with seven FAS nominees. Due to ongoing difficulties it had been decided to reduce the workforce by seven, i.e., the FAS nominees. The claim that the worker had been abused were rejected as unfounded. The matter was investigated by a Rights Commissioner who found that there was a conflict of evidence in respect of certain events in 1995. He found further that, given the very short service and the fact that the worker was on probation, there was no reason to view his dismissal as unfair. He recommended that the claimant and the Union should accept that the ending of the worker's employment was not unfair.
The recommendation was appealed, by the Union, on the 13th of June, 1997, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal, in Limerick, on the 25th of March, 1998.
3. 1. The worker was dismissed unfairly and was victimised because he had contacted FAS directly concerning particular problems and FAS themselves were not decisive when they were made aware of the problems on the project.
2. The Union has reason to contradict the employer's explanation for the dismissals. The supervisor refused to elaborate on his statement of August 4th in which he claimed that the reason for the dismissals was that the number employed on the project was being reduced. On August 8th, the Chairman of Abbeyfeale Chamber of Commerce, when questioned by the worker about the dismissals, stated that the EC grants were not sufficient to keep the number on site. On the day of the sackings a representative of the worker was advised by FAS that workers could not have been laid off as the scheme was of 3 years duration and there was plenty of work to be done.
3. On the day of the dismissals other workers were placed on the scheme, some of who were not from the locality.
4. It has been claimed that the worker left the site voluntarily. The Union refutes this. The employer had actually requested a Garda presence on the site on the day of the dismissals and this indicates that the sacked workers had not volunteered to go.
5. The Rights Commissioner's report failed to deal with the points raised by the Union and, in effect, agrees with the employer's actions. The findings stated that, due to his short service, the worker was not unfairly dismissed. The Union cannot accept the recommendation that the ending of the employment was not unfair. The train of events proves otherwise and the employer did not have a valid reason, other than wanting certain workers off-site.
4. 1. The worker in this case was one of those who did not seek the work and was chosen from the Unemployment Register. He approached the Chairman asking that special arrangements be made to allow him take his sick child to hospital every Friday. He also indicated that he did not want to work on the Scheme because there was more lucrative work available to him with local building contractors. The Chairman advised him that he was on the Scheme and that he must abide by the rules approved by FAS. However, if he could be facilitated in relation to his child then this would be done.
2. The supervisor denies making any derogatory remark to the worker.
3. At no time did the worker approach the sponsors with his complaint which is the correct procedure on any FAS Scheme.
4. As the Scheme was progressing it became apparent that there was not sufficient work for the full twenty-five people. The Committee, in consultation with the Sponsors and supervisors, decided to reduce the size of the Scheme, whereby the non-volunteers were laid off, with the full knowledge of the Social Welfare Office and with minimal loss of revenue to the seven.
5. The changes to the Scheme were effected in August, 1995. The worker was one of the people who was returned to the Unemployment Register. He was not singled out for special treatment or mistreatment, as has been alleged by him.
The Court, having considered the written and oral evidence presented, upholds the Rights Commissioner's recommendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th April, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.