INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
DUNNES STORES (DROGHEDA)
- AND -
( REPRESENTED BY MANDATE)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Alleged Unfair Dismssal
2. The dispute concerns a worker who commenced employment as a Sales Assisistant in May, 1999. She was dismissed in April, 2000. In a letter to the claimant the Company claimed that the dismissal arose as a result of a number of voiding transactions which were carried out over a period of three days on the worker's cash register. The Union claimed that the worker was unfairly dismissed and on the 31st of July, 2000 submitted a complaint to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
By letter dated 21st August, 2000, the Company declined an invitation to attend the hearing. A Court hearing was held on the 27th October, 2000.
3. 1. The claimant did not know how to do a void transaction. In order to do a void transaction, a special supervisors/ managers key, not available to Sales Assistants, and a Manager's code known only to the particular manager is required.
2. The Union sought to see the audit rolls, that are retained in each cash register, which record transactions on the registerand are identical to the receipt which each customer gets when purchasing goods in a supermarket. The Company said that these audit rolls, on which the voids took place were missing. Given the absence of audit rolls, it is impossible to identify how these voids were transacted. Therefore a major piece of evidence in trying to explain the voids is missing. With this evidence missing the Company are assuming, unreasonably so in the view of the Union, that tha claimant carried out the voids.
3. While the claimant accepts that she was logged on to the register on the days the voids were carried out, she categorically denies carrying out the voids or being able to do so, given her lack of access to either a Manager's key or code, both of which are necessary to transact a void.
4. The crucial link in the Company's case, is the customer who says they can identify the person who did the £101.38 voiding transaction on the 12th April. Yet the Company refused to identify this customer or bring them to a meeting with the claimant to ascertain the validity or otherwise of their statements regarding the person who voided their receipt.
5. The claimant pointed out to Management at a local level meeting on Tuesday 24th April, that her private code did not come in a closed envelope, as per Company procedure/ policy, but was given to her by a Manager, who had therefore access to her code. The Company failed tp deny this happened. When examining the Company's letter of 2nd May, 2000 (confirming the worker's dismissal) there are two very significant points to note.
(i) In the penultimate paragraph, Management refers to her private number and in the second paragraph , states this number shows the claimant was operating the till at the time of the voiding transaction.
(ii) The claimant has stated to Management that it was possible that she had left her till during the voiding transactions and also it is possible, even if she had logged off, someone else had used her code to void the transaction. In summary her code was not only private to her, it was known to at least one other Manager, the person who gave her the number in the beginning.
6. By denying the Union Shop Steward access to the meeting on Tuesday, 24th April, an unfair advantage was given to the Company. It was seen by the Union as an attempt by the Company to deny continuity of representation to the claimant and, therefore, make it difficult for her to properly defend herself.
7. The Union believes that the third paragraph of the Company's letter of 2nd May, 2000 to be untrue( where the Company states that the worker ofered to resign) given that the claimant informed Management that she would resign -" if you want me to leave, I will leave". This took place on the 20th April on a one to one basis, with no offer of representation to the worker. Management was trying to force a resignation from the claimant. The worker was dismissed unfairly. She is entitled to appropriate compensation.
A letter informed the Court that the Company would not be attending the hearing. It is regrettable that the Company decided not to attend or present a submission.
Having considered the circumstances in this case, the Court is satisfied on the evidence before it that the worker did not defraud the Company of any monies and is innocent of the charges,which were put before her. Therefore, the Court recommends that she should be compensated for her unfair dismissal by the payment of a lump sum of £500.
The Court is satisfied that theft had occurred but believes that the scope and method of carrying out the investigation into the void transactions were seriously flawed and that this has given rise to an unjust charge being made against this worker.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10 th November, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.