INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Alleged failure to implement an agreement
2. In 1997, 3 employees, including the worker concerned, were demoted from grade 'B' to grade 'A' following a disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary action also included moving the worker to the catering department to work as a kitchen porter.
In late 1997, the worker contacted a serious illness. The Company claims that it was inferred that the worker contacted the illness as an occupational injury during the course of his work in the catering department. (The worker was absent by way of illness from October, 1997 to March, 1998). It was put to the Company that should the cause of the worker's illness become known it would be very embarrassing. As a result, the Company's Acting Staff Relations Manager (the Manager) issued a letter on the 17th of November which included the following:
"The three staff who were transferred out of Post Section will have their grade restored on a personal basis effective 1 January, 1998.
It is our intention to have a change of location for the worker before he returns to work from his current sick leave."
(The worker was named in the above letter).
The worker was retained on full pay. However, the Company claims, efforts to relocate him failed as no other manager in an operative section wanted him. In October,1999, the worker sought to retire on medical grounds, citing a lower back problem. The Company's medical officer did not support this. The worker was instructed by letter to report for work on the 22nd of May, 2000. (There was some dispute at the hearing as to who authorised the letter). He was subsequently sent home again. The Company claims that it was made aware at this time that the worker's original illness was contacted while cleaning drains at his home.
The worker returned for duty on the 22nd of January, 2001. He was promoted to operative B within the Bond Section, where he has been employed since the 10th of June, 2001. The Union is seeking implementation of the letter/agreement of the 17th of November, 1997, and retrospection of all monies due to him. The Company did offer to restore the worker to his former position from May, 2000, but this was not acceptable to the Union. The worker was promoted to Grade B in June, 2001.
The Union referred the dispute to the Labour Court on the 21st of May, 2001, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relation Act, 1969. Labour Court hearings took place on the 12th of July, and the 29th of August, 2001.
3. 1. The agreement outlined in the letter of the 18th of November, 1997, is clear. It stated that the worker's grade would be restored on a personal basis effective from 1st of January, 1998, and that a change of location would be in place when he returned from sick leave.
2 The worker was told to stay at home until a suitable location was found. It was not his fault that the Company took such a long time to facilitate him
3. The other 2 workers were restored to Grade B in 1998. The worker concerned was not.
4. 1, The Company has been more than fair to the worker. He was retained on full pay from March, 1998, until January, 2001, although he was absent for that period.
2. The Company could not find a position for the worker as none of the managers wanted him in their section.
3. The worker inferred that he had contacted his illness whilst working in the catering section. It was because of this that he was retained on full pay. He used this illness as an excuse to be absent from work for a considerable time. It subsequently turned out that he had contacted the illness at home.
The Court had two hearings in this case and was presented with conflicting evidence on the background to the dispute.
The Court was presented with several explanations as to why the claimant was absent on full pay for a lengthy period.
However, the claim before the Court is for implementation of the agreement made in November, 1997.
While the Company argues that the claimant’s grade was not restored because he was absent from work and that he was being paid full salary, the agreement clearly states that: -
- "The three staff who were transferred would have their grade restored with effect from 1st January 1998."
The Court, therefore, while conscious of the arguments made by the Company, finds that under the agreement, the claimant is entitled to have his grade restored from 1st January 1998.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th September, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.