INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
GILLS CLEANING SERVICES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY PATRICK J. DURCAN & CO. SOLICITORS)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who commenced employment with the Company on the 20th September, 1999. She worked a three day week and her pay was £108 per week. Her employment ended on the 31st July, 2000. The worker claimed that she was unfairly dismissed and sought to refer the issue to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. The employer objected to such a referral. On the 20th November, 2000 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. A Court hearing was held in Navan on the 17th April, 2001. The Company was unable to attend that hearing due to circumstances beyond its control and advised the Court of this situation. The hearing was adjourned. A further hearing was held in Navan on the 29th May, 2001.
3. 1. Part of the worker's duties involved the operation of a pressing machine. It developed a fault in the latter months of the worker's employment. This caused marking on a number of items of clothing and blame was attributed to the worker. However, she had made her manageress aware of this fault and no effort was
made to repair it. The problems associated with the use of the machine were not of the worker's making and it was unfair of management to apportion blame to her.
2. The worker was a competent and efficient employee during the period of her employment and she had not received any warnings. She was unfairly dismissed in an arbitrary fashion and seeks appropriate redress.
4. 1. The worker had a poor attendance record and her attitude in dealing with customers left a lot to be desired. She was spoken to by her manageress about these issues. Following an incident when an item of clothing and an iron were damaged, which the Company claimed was the worker's fault, the employer took the view that the worker's behaviour during her employment was such as to warrant dismissal. He dismissed the worker by phone on the 31st July, 2001.
The Employer disputed the Labour Court Jurisdiction to investigate this dispute, under a number of headings. After careful consideration of the arguments made, the Court is satisfied that the dispute is properly before it. On the points raised by the Employer, the Court finds as follows:-
1. The Employer states that Section 20 (1) of the 1969 Act and Section 26 (1) of the 1990 Act must be read together, and that therefore any investigation by the Court requires the consent of both parties.
Both Acts are mutually exclusive. The Court may hear applications under Section
20(1) of the 1969 Act without consent of both parties.
Section 26(1) of the 1990 Act only applies to cases, that have come from the Labour Relations Commission under the Act.
2. The Employer contends that this is an unfair dismissal and therefore the Court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Trade dispute is defined in the 1946 Act as any dispute between employers and workers concerning the employment or non-employment of any person The Court is of the opinion that this case falls within that definition.
3. In relation to the question of privilege the respondent's submission is incorrect. All submissions to the Labour Court are subject to privilege, i.e. they cannot be used for a defamation action. This does not just apply to information received under subpoena.
The Employer's representative was not in a position to respond to questions in relation to the substantive issue as her instructions related only to the issue of Jurisdiction of the Court. The Court therefore had to a large degree to depend on the evidence submitted by the claimant.
Having considered all the information supplied, the Court finds that the manner of the dismissal was unfair, and recommends that the employer pay this claimant £3, 250 in compensation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th June, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.