INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. 578/98 concerning disciplinary action.
2. The worker concerned has been employed by Cork Corporation as a traffic warden for the past seven years.
The dispute concerns the Corporation's allegations that the worker failed to report for duty at the multi-storey car park at Lavitt's Quay on the 6th of September, 1997 and that he was abusive to a member of the public while acting as a car part attendant on the 12th of September, 1998.
Following an investigation the worker was suspended from work for one week without pay and his name was permanently removed from the multi-storey car park relief roster.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. The Rights Commissioner's findings and recommendation are as follows:-
"Based on the evidence before me, I am satisfied that the worker's behaviour over recent years has led to his current difficulties and that, in general, the Corporation's proposed punishment in the current case is justified.
However, I am recommending a small amendment to the punishment proposed by the Corporation in their letter of the 2nd of March, 1998 to the worker. In my view, the worker should be allowed access to the multi-storey car park relief roster when he has completed a period of twelve months without any further disciplinary matter arising.
In the circumstances, I recommend accordingly."
The Rights Commissioner's recommendation was appealed by the Union to the Labour Court on the 24th of November, 1998 under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal in Cork on the 1st of September, 1999, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Corporation failed to sustain the allegation of abuse, given the difference that arose as to the exact nature of the words used.
2. Even allowing for the fact that the Corporation may feel justified in imposing some sanction, the proposals are disproportionate to any of the allegations made and could not be considered fair and reasonable.
3. It is recognised that the Rights Commissioner recommended a small amendment to the punishment imposed by the Corporation. However, it is the Union's contention that this amendment does not adequately address the fundamental problem.
4. The Union is seeking that the sanction imposed on the worker in relation to work in the multi-storey car park, be removed and in addition that the Corporation compensate him for any loss of earnings suffered as a result.
4. 1. As a result of several meetings and exhaustive investigations it was agreed by both sides that:-
(1) The worker was properly rostered for relief duty on the 6th of September, 1997.
(2) He made several attempts to swap the shift.
(3) He admitted that the christening for which he wanted the day off, had been cancelled.
(4) On the 8th of September, he requested a days leave and when this was refused he sought sick leave.
2. The fact that the worker failed to report for duty was not denied and is not an issue.
3. A complaint was received from a member of the public that the worker was abusive to her at the Lavitt's Quay car park on the 12th of September, 1998. Having reviewed the evidence management is of the view that on balance the evidence favours the complainant. Her description of the worker's alleged behaviour appeared to be fairly typical of him. She was clearly distressed by the incident.
4. The Corporation believes that it has dealt with this case fairly and equitably and that the original penalty imposed was justified. However, management accepted the Rights Commissioner's recommendation on the matter. In the circumstances the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner should stand and the Court is requested to uphold it.
Having considered the submissions of the parties the Court finds no basis in which it should interfere with the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner.
The recommendation of the Rights Commissioner is upheld and the appeal disallowed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st September, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.