INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
CARAHER AND WARD LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY JAMES T. MURPHY, SOLICITOR)
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. IR26/98.
2. The Company employs a staff of between 20 and 25 and it is involved in the repair and manufacture of vehicles, bus repairs, vehicle body work and steel fabrication and fitting work of breweries etc. The dispute concerns one worker who claims that he was selected for redundancy based on unfair selection criteria. The worker commenced employment with the Company in May, 1995, having previously worked there for brief periods in 1992, 1993 and 1994. The Company states that his main functions were steel fabrication, welding and fitting work in the McArdle Moore Brewery. The Company claims that following advice from the Brewery of a shortage of work there it had no alternative but to let the worker go, along with 2 colleagues.
The Union claims that the worker was selected by the Company for redundancy because of his union activities. The Union claims, further, that two colleagues of his were retained, one of whom had less service that the claimant and that a third retained colleague had less service as a qualified fitter then the claimant.
The dispute was investigated by a Rights Commissioner who concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegation of termination based on Union activity.
The Rights Commissioner also considered that the selection process was fair and that the dismissal was, therefore, not unfair. The Union appealed the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation, to the Labour Court, on the 25th of May, 1998, in accordance with Section 13 (9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal, in Dundalk on the 20th of January, 1999, the earliest date suitable to both parties.
1. The worker was a recognised shop steward and was actively engaged in recruiting in the Company complex. Following a meeting of the worker with the regional officer, the Union wrote to the Company seeking a meeting. The Union was then informed that that it was necessary for the worker to be let go. It is more than coincidental that the decision to let him go was only conveyed to him after the Union's letter to the Company.
2. The decision to terminate the worker's employment was not determined by a redundancy situation since the Company continued to do work in the Brewery with other employees. The Company's claim that selection criteria were based on the retention of specialist skills is rejected. On previous occasions when Brewery work was slack the worker was brought back into the workshop and was utilised at a full range of jobs, including fabricating, coach building and general maintenance.
3. While it is accepted that Brewery work was the worker's main job, he was not used exclusively in that area. Accordingly, the Company acted unreasonably in terminating his employment. Additionally, the Rights Commissioner, in evaluating the case, did not correctly weight the facts.
1. The Company, having been informed by the Brewery of a reduction in the requirement for maintenance work, had no alternative but to lay the worker off. He and his Union were informed that he would have first refusal of any work that became available. He was, subsequently, offered a minimum of 2 weeks' work but declined as he had obtained alternative employment.
2. There was no connection between the worker's Union activities and his selection for redundancy. The selection criteria were fair, having regard to all the facts.
3. A colleague of the worker's who had 4 days' less service was retained because he was employed as a fitter/mechanic whose scope of work covered steel fabrication and mechanical work, the type of which was on-going at the time of the worker's redundancy. This type of work was not that performed by the claimant. Another colleague was not selected for redundancy as he had longer continuous service when his time served as a fitter was included.
4. Two colleagues of the worker's who were employed in another area where there was a downturn in work were also made redundant on the same day.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions find no reason to change the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation. The Court, therefore, upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation and rejects the Appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th February, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.