INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NORTHERN FEATHER LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Redundancy compensation and restructuring/redundancy clause
2. The Union's case concerns a claim for enhanced severance package for two workers. Both workers have spent most of their lives in the same job. The Company is a wholly owned company which manufactures quilts and pillows for the Irish and UK market. The workers were informed in July, 2003, that the feather factory section in which they were employed was to close. Following a meeting with the Company, the two workers were offered the option of re-deployment or redundancy. They were redeployed to the synthetic quilt line on the 1st of December, 2003, but left the job after two days, claiming it was unsuitable. Worker A (Mr. G) accepted re-deployment in a temporary position. Worker B (Mr. H) opted to leave the Company and was offered redundancy of €17,839.34. At a meeting on the 15th of December, 2003, Mr. G also opted for redundancy and was offered €16,618.40.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. The result of the conference was that Mr. G received a cheque for €19,634.40 which included €3,016 notice, and Mr. H received a cheque for €20,855.34, also inclusive of €3,016 notice. At the conclusion of the conciliation conference an offer of €24,000 for Mr. G and €25,000 for Mr. H was recommended by both parties. The following clause was also agreed by the parties.
"In the event of any future re-structuring or redundancy it is agreed that there will be full and meaningful negotiations between the Company and the Union, which will consider all options, in particular suitable alternative employment, within the Company, of any workers, who may be displaced, all things being equal".
In the event, the written clause was accepted but the monetary offer was rejected. The Union is seeking 4.5 weeks' pay per year of service inclusive of statutory.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 26th of July, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd of December, 2004, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The two workers have given long and loyal service to the Company. They co-operated with the Company whenever changes were needed.
2. The Company made little effort to help them to re-deploy to suitable work. They were left with no choice but to accept redundancy.
3. The Company's offer of statutory redundancy plus one half week's pay per year of service is not a fair settlement. Other companies in the industry have given 3-5 weeks' pay per year of service.
4. 1. The Company could have shut down the feather factory and issued notice to the two workers a lot earlier but it made every effort to reach a solution.
2. Previous redundancy settlements in the Company were less than half of the final offer to the workers, based on current rates.
3. The workers were only employed for two days on the synthetic quilt line before stating that the work was unsuitable.
The Union submitted a claim on behalf of two employees for an enhanced redundancy package due to the closure of the feather factory unit. The Union also sought to ensure that there would be full and meaningful negotiations between the parties in the event of future redundancies.
Having considered all the circumstances in this case, the Court recommends that the Union should accept the following in full and final settlement of the claims before the Court:-
- the Company should make an additional ex-gratia payment to each of the two workers, this payment should be to the value of their respective statutory redundancy rebates - according to the Company's figures, Mr. H's rebate is valued at €4,782.46 and Mr. G's rebate valued at €4,243.00.
- both parties should accept the wording on possible future redundancies, as presented by the Industrial Relations Officer at the conciliation conference on 5th February, 2004.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st December, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.