INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
N W TEXTILES
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The worker began her job on the 13th of October, 1997. Her work consisted of sorting out and grading second-hand clothing which was eventually sent abroad, mainly for charity purposes. She had been with FAS previously and had got the job through that agency. On the 15th of October, the worker went to her doctor as she was feeling ill and was diagnosed with tonsillitis. She was given a 3 day certificate but returned to work on Friday the 17th as she was feeling better. The worker claims that one hour before finishing on Friday, she was laughing at a joke and was reprimanded by a female supervisor. She claims that the supervisor told her to get on with her work or she would have no job. The worker admits to answering back to the supervisor and was told to report to the manager. She apologised for answering back but, she claims, the female supervisor told her she would have a second chance. She was paid £66 for 3 days work - Monday to Wednesday.
The following Monday, the worker reported for work. The manager gave her a cheque for £24 for Friday and told her to go home as she no longer had a job. The worker felt that she was unfairly dismissed and referred her case to the Labour Court on the 1st of December, 1997, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 29th of April, 1998, in Castlebar. The Company did not attend the hearing but in a letter to the Court gave as reasons for the dismissal that the worker was absent on the 16th of October, she was given a verbal warning on the 17th of October, she left the factory five minutes early on the 17th of October and she was generally disruptive. The worker has agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. Conditions in the factory were very bad. There was no machinery or furniture. There was no heating and the roof was leaking. It was because of these conditions that the worker became ill. The clothes she was working with were dirty and damp. There were two supervisors, a man and a woman, who gave different instructions on how to grade the clothes. The female supervisor was constantly telling the workers to hurry up.
2. The worker admits to answering back to the female supervisor but did apologise. She was told that she would have a second chance but this did not happen. The worker left at the same time as everyone else on the Friday. She was genuinely sick on the Thursday and has a note from her doctor to prove it. The worker feels that she was dismissed because the female supervisor did not like her. She was not given a letter of appointment.
The employer did not attend the hearing but submitted a letter indicating his non-attendance was due to business pressure and outlining the claimant's employment record.
It would appear from the evidence presented that the employee had no letter of appointment, no clear terms of reference and that working conditions were less than satisfactory.
Both sides accepted that an incident had taken place between the employee and her supervisor and that the employee had been warned as to her future conduct on the 17th of October.
The Court finds it strange that without any further incident of any sort, the claimant was sacked on reporting for work on the next working day. No opportunity was given to the claimant to address the issue raised by the Company. This is not in line with good industrial relations procedures and the Court is concerned that the employer does not seem to accept the need for good personnel procedures.
The Court finds that the dismissal was unfair, and recommends that the Company pay the claimant a sum of £100 in compensation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th May, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.