INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
GENESIS FINE ART LIMITED
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. IR1600/00/GF.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who commenced employment with the Company in September, 1999. His job involved the setting up of a production process to paint figurines by airbrush (the 'Chloe' collection) and the training of two other workers in this process. The worker's employment ended in May, 2000. The worker claimed that he was unfairly dismissed. The Company stated that the worker was made redundant. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. On the 6th of November, 2000, the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:-
"In response to a direct question the claimant told the Rights Commissioner he expected the setting up of the production process to take 2 years and I can only conclude he did not fully grasp the realities of the situation.
I am satisfied from the figures there was serious fall - off in the Chloe sales and he was made redundant.
I am satisfied the dismissal was due to redundancy and it was not unfair."
On the 17th of November, 2000, the worker appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal in Mullingar on the 6th of March, 2001.
3. 1. The worker was contacted in the UK and invited to come to Ireland to train two inexperienced workers. He was given the job of training them to paint figurines using airbrushes, and after a number of months they were proficient, producing up to eight figurines per day. The figurines are the 'Chloe' range, not just one, the range consists of seventeen different figurines each one individual and different to each other. When the worker stated that the process could take up to two years he meant from its inception right through the sculpting of the range and coloration to having the finished product on the shelves. From the worker's experience in UK potteries, where it can take four years plus to train painters, this was in fact quite a reasonable time frame.
2. The worker is sceptical about the decline in sales of the Chloe product. If this was the case it is difficult to understand the Company's decision to send the worker and a colleague to Bangkok for one week, training Thai workers in a factory to recreate the look required for figurines, and then order container loads of a range of figurines that the employer claims cannot be sold. Following the Bangkok trip the worker felt that his employment in Ireland was secure and he gave up the tenancy of his flat in England to settle here.
3. The employer induced the worker to come to Ireland with several promises which were subsequently reneged upon. The effect his relocation and subsequent job loss has had devastating consequences for the worker. He had an understanding that he would have good secure employment, otherwise he would not have undertaken the huge upheaval involved in leaving the UK to work in Ireland.
4. The worker has been treated in a most unjust fashion and seeks appropriate redress.
4. 1. The painting process was very slow and at the end of March, 2000, it transpired that an average of 5 - 7 pieces per day were painted and finished by the 3 employees. The employer informed the claimant the cost was far too high in time and money and was not working.
2. Management had made contact with a Company in Bangkok previously regarding the production of this product, and sent the worker and production supervisor to this Company for 9 days approximately so that the worker could demonstrate the use of the air brush painting technique and if possible to import the product from Bangkok. The purpose of the journey was to check the samples and to see if the product was up to standard for sale. The employer went to Bangkok for the last two/three days to assess the situation. The employees of the Bangkok Company were already proficient in the painting of the figurines and were producing substantially more units per day than the worker ever produced.
3. It was necessary to make cut backs in the painting department in relation to the figurines and the worker was let go. He was paid one-week's pay in lieu of notice as he did not wish to work out the extra week. The employer did not give any promise that the worker would have a job in the factory as long as he wished to have one. He could not give such a guarantee.
4. When he was let go the employer explained that targets were not met regarding production and that the figurines were not commercially viable. An employee from the Personnel/Financial Department was present at the meeting. The worker stated that he had rent arrears in the UK amounting to £400.00 sterling and that he was intending to return to England to sort out the arrears on his flat. The employer gave the worker £500.00 from his own resources when leaving, to try to relieve his financial situation. The worker expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the money and stated that it was the first time that he had ever got such assistance when leaving a job.
Having carefully considered the submissions of the parties to this appeal, the Court agrees with the conclusion of the Rights Commissioner that a genuine situation of redundancy existed and that this was the sole reason for the termination of the employee's employment. In these circumstances the dismissal was not unfair.
Accordingly, the Court upholds the Recommendation of the Rights Commissioner and the appeal is disallowed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd March, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.