INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged bullying and harassment.
2. The worker joined the Company in 1994 as a Security Officer. He claims that on the 6th of December, 1995 he was summoned to see the Chief Security Officer (CSO) concerning an internal investigation into an incident concerning another security officer and involving a tape recorder.
The worker claims that as a result of this investigation, and the subsequent evidence he gave that he has been continuously bullied and harassed by his immediate superiors.
Management rejected the worker's claims and stated that the claimant's allegations are totally unfounded. It states that the worker refused to go through the internal procedures which are in place to investigate his complaint. The allegations of bullying and harassment are vehemently rejected.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the worker referred the dispute to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. The Court investigated the dispute on the 29th of March, 1999.
3. 1. The worker joined the Company in May, 1994 and up until December, 1995 there were no complaints regarding his work record, time keeping, attendance or his application to duty.
2. As a result of evidence he gave at a disciplinary hearing concerning another security officer, the worker has felt threatened and bullied. The worker is angry and bitter at the way he has been treated by management.
3. The worker has over twenty years experience in the Security business and has never received an adverse report.
5. The worker's concerns and fears have not been taken seriously by the Company and senior management in the organisation allowed this situation to continue.
6. The Union is seeking the following redress:
(1) All unfair comments and reports to be removed from the worker's file.
(2) Letter to the worker confirming the above.
(3) Letter of apology for the treatment meted out over the past three years.
(4) Compensation for the trauma which the worker has suffered.
4. 1. RTE regards bullying in the workplace to be unacceptable behaviour. Perpetrators of such behaviour render themselves liable to disciplinary action. This is clearly laid out in its Personnel Policy and Procedures manual.
2. Management has a obligation to investigate any grievance/allegation raised by any member of staff. It is reasonable to expect the full co-operation of any individual who is able to assist in such an investigation and in particular a staff member who makes the allegation. It is unreasonable to raise allegations in such vague terms and then refuse management's offer to investigate them.
3. The Company has made every effort to investigate the worker's complaint but every attempt has been thwarted by the non co-operation of the individual concerned.
4. The allegations contained in the worker's submission are full of inaccuracies and totally unfounded and are at variance with the truth.
5. The worker has no evidence to support his allegations which are totally unjustified.
6. The Company has a mechanism for dealing with complaints but the worker concerned refused to co-operate.
The Court has given careful consideration to all the written and oral submissions of both sides. Having considered the five claims and their different details the Court is of the view that a solution would best be served by issuing one recommendation in relation to all five claims.
The Court is of the view that the disciplinary hearings of December 1995/January 1996 were unsatisfactorily handled and have been the source of many of the problems in this dispute. These problems were accentuated by failures in communication between the personnel department and the chief security officer, who at times was unaware of the complaints made.
The Court recommends that the Company should now formally acknowledge this situation to the complainants.
The Company has since recognised the mistakes made in conducting disciplinary hearings, and has indicated its intention to ensure that all future investigations/hearings will be dealt with in a different manner so as to ensure that the same problems will not arise.
No satisfactory procedure was in place to cope with the allegations of bullying and harassment in the Company. When the Union notified management of these allegations, management were slow to deal with the situation. These were serious allegations which should have invoked an immediate response. Management finally attempted to deal with the allegations under the existing grievance procedures.
Since this issue was referred to the Court, an agreed procedure has been put in place which is specifically designed to deal with bullying and harassment allegations. This procedure was too late to deal with this dispute. Both sides lost out as a result of deficient procedures.
The Court considers that the most satisfactory result to be achieved at this point would be to look jointly to the future operation and relations within the Security section and to attempt to facilitate a fresh start in order to establish a good working environment.
This possibility is facilitated from the outset by a change in management of the section. The new manager must not be saddled by the "baggage" that has developed over the past three years. Additionally the development of new procedures should assist in clearing any future problems.
With this in mind, the Court recommends that the following steps should be taken;
- all critical letters or reports connected with the disciplinary hearings and with all aspects of this dispute should be removed from the personnel files of the five individual's involved in this dispute. Confirmation of this action should be given to each of the claimants and to the Union along with the formal acknowledgment referred to above.
- in an effort to ensure that the new bullying and harassment procedures are effective, management should engage the services of a professional in this field to communicate the policy to all employees, and train all supervisors and managers on how to handle complaints under these procedures. Both the Company and the union should consider jointly the structuring of such training in line with clause 6 of Partnership 2000 - High Level Skills and Life Long Learning.
- management must accept that all employees have a right to be treated with respect and dignity in the performance of their duty
- employees must accept their duties and obligations to management and that grievances must be processed under the appropriate procedures in the normal way
- the training needs of supervisors in the security area must be assessed particularly with regard to people management skills, and the identified needs should be addressed as soon as possible.
The Court is of the view that it should not have been necessary for the Union to refer these claims under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 / 90. Management should have made every effort to investigate these allegations before referring to a third party.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th May, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.