INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY MARINE, PORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. RC459/97.
2. The worker concerned joined Brooke Bond Oxo Ireland Limited with effect from the 6th of May, 1985. In August, 1987, Brooke Bond closed and the worker was offered a position with Allegro. Part of her conditions of employment was that her service with Brooke Bond would carry into her new contract with Allegro for relevant matters e.g. service pay. As a result, she forfeited a compensation payment of £1,960 when Brooke Bond closed. A second worker (worker B) had joined Allegro with effect from the 1st of April, 1987.
In late 1996, the Union raised the issue of seniority between the two workers. The Union claimed that the worker concerned did not have seniority over worker B and, therefore, she had suffered a loss of earnings from 1987 - 1996. The Company's response was that the worker concerned did have seniority over worker B as her employment was considered to have started in May, 1985. As such, no compensation was due.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) and it was decided that the Union's interpretation of seniority should be upheld. Following discussions at local level, the Company made an offer of £158.87 compensation, based on 18 months' loss of earnings at 6 pence per hour. The Union rejected the offer and the dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner whose recommendation is as follows:-
"I recommend that the Union and the worker accept that no compensation is merited in this dispute."
(The worker was named in the recommendation).
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 1st of October, 1997, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd of February, 1998.
3. 1. When the worker transferred from Brooke Bond to Allegro in 1987, Brooke Bond made the arrangement in contravention of standing agreements in relation to seniority. Seniority is pivotal in Allegro as it relates to the most sought after positions and remuneration. At the Labour Relations Commission conference it was agreed that the Union's interpretation of seniority was correct, i.e., that worker B was more senior to the worker concerned, resulting in the worker concerned accruing a loss since 1987. Another worker who joined Allegro from Brooke Bond at the same time was given compensation as well as a job. Allegro has already agreed that compensation is due. If the worker opted for a higher paid job in the future she could lose out on the basis of seniority.
4. 1. The worker concerned received no compensation at the time of her transfer in 1987 as she was being offered a job with Allegro. The Union was involved in all the transactions and at no stage raised the issue with regard to the status of the worker-v-other Allegro employees. When the issue was raised in 1996, management's view was that the worker concerned was senior to worker B. The compensation payment of £1,960 in 1987 was made by Brooke Bond and, therefore, it was not the responsibility of Allegro to pay. A study of the worker's earnings from 1991-1996 shows that, compared to worker B, there was no loss of earnings.
The Court, having considered the information presented, notes that the parties had discussed the possible loss by the claimant, and the Company had offered 18 months' compensation, prior to the Rights Commissioner's hearing.
The Court is satisfied that a loss has been established but, given the background, does not accept that this should go back to 1987.
While the Court is conscious that the normal compensation in the Company has been 18 months, this case is viewed as different and a one-off not to be used as a precedent.
The Court, therefore, recommends that the Rights Commissioner's recommendation be amended as follows:-
The claimant to be paid a sum of £250 in full and final
settlement of this claim.
The Court, therefore, upholds the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th February, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.