INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
AVONMORE WATERFORD GROUP
- AND -
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR185/99/GF.
2. The Company (now Glanbia plc), which evolved as a result of the merger between Waterford Foods plc and Avonmore Foods plc, in 1997, has its head office in Kilkenny. It is engaged in a number of activities in the dairy, agri-business and meat sectors and employs a workforce of 4,400 in the Republic of Ireland.
The dispute concerns a claim on behalf of one worker, who was in employment with the Company for 38 years, for relocation allowance following his transfer from the Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP) to Milk Intake Section, on the closure of the Company's Dungarvan plant. (Approximately 25 workers were required to remain on in order to keep the plant operational during the run up to final closure.) The Company rejected the claim on the grounds that the worker has volunteered for the position and that in any case he would be availing of a generous redundancy package. The dispute was the subject of an investigation by a Rights Commissioner who found and recommended as follows:
"The European Commission, Safeguarding of Employees Rights or Transfer of Undertaking Regulations are aimed at safeguarding the rights of employees in the event of a transfer of ownership of undertakings, business, or parts of businesses, which entails a change of employer.
It seems as though the question of the existing agreements has not been adequately dealt with. The Union argues that it was clearly understood the current agreement would be honoured. The Company disputes this.
Both parties are unable to produce any new agreement which replaces the Avonmore Waterford one. Therefore, I must find in favour of the claimant and I recommend that he be paid the allowance forthwith."
The Company appealed the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation, to the Labour Court, on the 9th of June, 1999, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal, in Waterford, on the 23rd of September, 1999.
3. 1. Disturbance money is only paid when someone is compelled to move to another job on the same site by the Company and in this case the claimant volunteered of his own free will to take up the position.
2. The claimant was not coerced into moving location and, by so doing, he actually extended his tenure of employment and his earnings.
3. The claimant had once before received a re-deployment allowance of approximately £2,000 for a normal re-deployment when the plant was due to continue operations.
4. The Company believes that the Rights Commissioner erred in his judgement on a point of fact as the company "Ingredients Ireland" did not "take over" the business and there was no "change of employer", as stated in his judgement.
5. The then Human Resources Manager of the Company has no recollection of relocation monies being agreed in respect of this case.
4. 1. Prior to the closure of the Dungarvan Milk Processing Site, on the 29th of October, 1998, the worker was employed as a Plant Operator in CHP. He was approached by local management and requested to remain on after the closure date and, accordingly, he was re-deployed to the Milk Intake Section, in line with the terms of the closure agreement.
2. The Union specifically clarified his position with the then Human Resource Manager, to the effect that he would carry the CHP rate, as per the terms of the Job Grading Agreement, as it was Management that was requesting him to remain on and to re-deploy to the Milk Intake Section. It was also made clear that the re-deployment payment of £2,750 would apply.
The Court is satisfied on the balance of the arguments that the Union had a commitment from the Company that a re-deployment payment would be made to the claimant.
In the circumstances, the Court rejects this appeal and upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th October, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.