INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
IRISH RUBBER COMPONENTS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. 653/96
2. The Company manufactures rubber components for the automotive industry and employs approximately 70 workers in its plant in Carrick-on-Shannon. The Company was formerly known as Woco Industrial Components Limited.
The worker commenced employment with the Company in April, 1991 and became permanent in September, 1991. He is employed as a machine operator. On the 16th/17th of July, 1996, the worker requested one day's annual leave for the 18th of July (there is some disagreement as to the date of the request and also to subsequent events). The Company claims that the worker was told that he could not take the day's leave due to the short notice and the number of workers on sick leave. The Union claims that the worker was told that the day's leave might be refused. In the event, the worker took leave on the 18th. A disciplinary hearing took place and the worker was given a written warning.
At a Company/Union meeting in July, 1996 it was decided to revise the disciplinary code in practice. All current warnings were to be stepped back as part of a general amnesty. As a result, the worker's written warning was changed to a verbal warning to last six months. The worker concerned, and a second worker who had a similar warning, were unhappy with the outcome of the general amnesty and the Union referred their cases to a Rights Commissioner. His recommendation is as follows:-
"Consequently, I recommend that the claims of the two
workers against Woco Industrial Components Limited, fail."
(The two workers were named in the above recommendation).
The Union appealed the Rights Commissioner's recommendation on behalf of the worker concerned to the Labour Court on the 13th of May, 1997, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. (The second worker accepted the Rights Commissioner's recommendation). A Labour Court hearing took place on the 10th of March, 1998, in Cavan.
3. 1. The worker received a written warning instead of a verbal warning which is in breach of the Company/Union Agreement. The Company did not respond to the worker's holiday request form which he had filled out in the normal way. Therefore, the worker was entitled to believe that the day's leave had been sanctioned. All warnings are kept on the Company's personnel record and can be used in cases of disciplinary matters.
4. 1. The worker was advised that he might not be allowed to take the day's leave. He was told to speak to the production supervisor to see if another arrangement could be made but he did not do so. The written warning was given due to a number of relevant factors, inducing the worker's poor attendance and disciplinary record, and his failure to contact the production supervisor. The worker could give no reasonable explanation for his actions at the disciplinary hearing. There was no need for the worker to appeal his warning to a Rights Commissioner as the warning had expired by that time (February, 1997) and no longer appears on his personnel record. The same reasoning applies to the present Labour Court hearing. The two hearings have cost the Company a considerable amount of time and money for what is, in effect, a non-existent claim. The worker was given the opportunity to appear at the Labour Court hearing but choose not to.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions, upholds the Rights Commissioner's recommendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th March, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.