INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Redundancy terms.
2. The dispute concerns the redundancy terms offered to workers as a result of the closure of the Company's operation at Moate, Co. Westmeath. It will continue to have operations at Killarney, Limerick and Galway. The Union's claim is for six week's pay per year of service plus statutory entitlements. The Company has made the following offer:-
3 weeks' pay per year of service subject to two ceilings:
(i) a general ceiling of 2 years pay on the Company payment and
(ii) a ceiling on the Company payment based on the number of weeks pay a worker could earn between the date of the redundancy and normal retirement date, i.e.
plus statutory redundancy
plus pay in lieu of notice
The Union rejected the offer. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 28th March, 2001, but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 29th March, 2001. A Court hearing was held on the 9th April, 2001.
3. 1. The closure has had a devastating effect on the workers and severe repercussions on the local economy. The workers have given long and loyal service to the Company. There have been no industrial disputes in the 43 years of the plant's operation.
2. The cessation of the fruit juice production in November, 2000 resulted in huge losses for workers. Their significant earnings were part and parcel of workers' income over the years and they undertook financial commitments on the strength of this income which they were accustomed to earning. The consequential loss meant severe hardship. The Company did not compensate workers for this loss.
3. The Company is the only substantial employer in the town. Workers who secure alternative employment will have to travel long distances and incur considerable hardship to obtain work.
4. In the circumstances the severance terms should be the best recorded in the Agri- Business sector. The Union is, therefore, claiming six weeks pay plus statutory. A week's pay to be calculated on the basis of average earnings between November, 1999 and November, 2000. The 2% under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness due in April, 2001, to be paid so as to be included in calculations. Those workers who are required to remain after closure (to assist with the orderly transfer of business) to receive additional payments for this cooperation.
4. 1. The Company's approach and proposed redundancy terms represents a fair and reasonable offer for all concerned. The Company took on additional costs by agreeing to the Union's request to make 15 workers redundant. It was intended that that they would transfer (depending on the routes concerned) to either the Limerick, or Galway operations or to two new organisations with whom the Company is in discussion.
2. The Company has also enlisted the services of consultants to assist workers with outplacement and their preparatory work is well advanced at this stage. This entails additional costs but the Company considers this service to be of considerable practical assistance to workers.
3. The Company must be mindful of balancing the costs associated with the preservation of the other jobs in Dawn Dairies in Ireland, with the costs associated with the redundancy.
The Court has carefully considered the submissions of the parties and recommends as follows:
1. The Company should pay an ex-gratia lump sum of four weeks pay per year of service, together with statutory entitlements.
2. Week's pay should be calculated by reference to the average earnings of the individual employee in the six months prior to the closure of the Juice Making area.
3. The Court does not recommend the imposition of an upper limit on the level of payment arising from the formula recommended.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th April, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.