INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH FERTILISER INDUSTRIES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY JWR JACKSON, LIQUIDATOR)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Access to voluntary redundancy package
2. The Company manufactures fertilisers for the agricultural sector at its factories in Arklow and Marino Point. It appointed a Liquidator in November, 2002. In 1998, an agreement for annualised hours was reached which provided for access to a voluntary redundancy programme. The offer was to last until the end of December, 1999. On the 12th of February, 1999, the Board decided that applications for voluntary redundancy should cease from that date. The worker was employed for 37 years and was one of two people in the Site Welfare Group. The dispute concerns his claim that he had applied for voluntary redundancy in January, 1999, and that the Company agreed to this but later reneged on the deal. He claims that he made repeated requests to avail of the voluntary redundancy package and was even given details and a proposed termination date of 28th of January, 2000. However, at a meeting on that date, he and the Union were informed that the Company would not accede to his request. The Company's case is that it did not give a firm commitment to the worker in regard to voluntary redundancy e.g. sending him an R.P.1. form to sign.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and 2 conciliation
conferences took place . As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 9th of September, 2003, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th of August, 2003, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The worker had applied for the voluntary redundancy package in January, 1999, some weeks before the Company's decision to put an end to the redundancy offer. The Union believed in good faith that it had an agreement with the Company.
2. The decision of 12th of February, 1999, (which was an internal memorandum and not discussed with the Union) stated."Where a package has been confirmed and signed up in writing, you should progress it to finality in the normal way."
3. Several staff members in the Company were facilitated with the voluntary severance package on acceptance of the annualised hours' agreement. The worker concerned was the only person who was not accommodated.
4.The Company had committed itself to accepting redundancies from the Site Welfare Group should they seek it. The Company confirmed to the worker in writing on the 16th of December, 1999, that he had sought to claim his redundancy in advance of the deadline of the 31st of December, 1999.
4. 1. In February, 1999, due to poor trading results and increasing financial difficulties, the Company felt it had no option but to impose an embargo on voluntary redundancies.
2. Although the worker made a number of enquiries about the voluntary package, the Company received no written application and gave no commitment in writing. No one else in the Company has made a request similar to the worker's.
3. The worker's redundancy package would have been in excess of €100,000. He has already received all statutory entitlements (approximately €43,000) and will receive more money as an unsecured creditor.
The Liquidator attended the hearing but the Court was hampered by not having any of the Management team present who had dealt with this case.
Subsequently the Court wrote to two Managers who were referred to by the claimant, requesting that they attend a hearing of the Court but neither responded.
The Court, therefore, considered the written and oral information presented at the hearing.
Having done so, the Court, while accepting that the claimant is of the view that a commitment was given by Management, accepts the arguments made that a requirement for acceptance of a request for voluntary redundancy was the completion of an R.P.1. form.
In this case, there is no evidence of a R.P.1. form having been signed. The Court, having considered the information before it, does not recommend concession of this claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th November, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.