INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
BOHEMIANS FOOTBALL CLUB
(REPRESENTED BY F.H. O'REILLY & COMPANY SOLICITORS)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The worker was engaged on a 6 month contract in December, 2000, and re-engaged in June, 2001. The Club claims that in July, 2001, the worker informed the first team manager that he would only play in games where he was selected from the start and would not start from the bench. The worker denies this. A number of articles regarding the matter appeared in 2 newspapers. On the 28th of July, 2001, the worker trained as usual but developed blood blisters. The following day be reported for a match but the Club physiotherapist could not treat him for his injury. A discussion took place between the worker and the manager as to whether the worker wanted to continue playing for the Club. The worker said he did but was concerned about the articles in the newspapers which were attributed to the manager. The manager denied that he had made the comments. There was also reference to a number of other football clubs looking to sign the worker.
The worker claims that after the match he was approached by the manager who verbally abused him. Shortly afterwards the manager gave the worker a letter which referred to a breach of contract due to the worker's refusal to play a match in Sweden. The following day the worker arrived at the Airport but was told that he would not be going to Sweden. A number of conflicting reports appeared in the newspapers. The worker continued to report for training for another 3/4 weeks but claims that he was not allowed to train with the rest of the players. He returned to England due to a lack of money, and returned to Ireland in November to play for Dundalk Football Club.
The Union is claiming that the worker lost 15 weeks' salary as a result of the action taken by the Club. The Clubs' view is that the dismissal was not unfair as the worker was in breach of his contract. The Club maintains that the dispute was a private law matter, not a trade dispute.
The Union referred its case to the Labour Court on the 30th of September, 2001, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 27th of June, 2002, the earliest date suitable to the parties. The worker agreed to be bound by the Courts' recommendation.
3. 1. The worker did not state that he would not play for the Club. He was concerned about the manager's comments which appeared in the newspapers.
2. The worker was prepared to go to Sweden with the Club but was refused permission by the manager.
3. The worker had contributed a great deal to the Club's success in 2000/2001 and was badly treated.
4. The worker was unable to sign for a number of other teams as the Club declined to release his registration.
4. 1. The dismissal was not unfair. The worker had indicated that he would not comply with proper directions. He was insubordinate to his manager and refused to play except on his own terms.
2. The worker had made his views known by speaking to a number of sports journalists and the matter was reported in the media.
3. The Club denies that he manager spoke in an abusive manner to the worker.
The representative of the employer argued that on the facts of this case there was no trade dispute which the Court could investigate. The Court fully considered the legal and technical submissions made on behalf of the employer and is fully satisfied that they are without merit. The claimant in this case was dismissed by his former employer and that dismissal is disputed by the Union. It is clear beyond argument that dismissal or non-employment can constitute the subject matter of a trade dispute. This is clearly provided for by section 3 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946.
With regard to the substance of the case, the Court is of the view that the employer failed to observe normal good employment practice before terminating the claimant's employment. Whatever differences there may have been between the claimant and the Manager they did not justify, in an industrial relations sense, summary dismissal. Furthermore, the employer failed to observe the procedural requirements of the Code of Practice of the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.
The Court recommends that the employer should offer and that the Union should accept a compensatory payment in the amount of €2,500 in full and final settlement of all claims against the employer, and that the dispute be resolved on this basis.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th July, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.