INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Independent 3rd party investigation.
2. The worker concerned has been employed by FÁS as a general assistant/ forklift trainer (part-time) for 12 years. He has made complaints of bullying against a number of colleagues as far back as 1998 both to local management and to his section head. He claims his situation was exacerbated in September 2002 when he became the subject of an investigation by local management at the training centre where he is employed. Following that investigation FÁS wrote to the worker stating that "there was no substance to the allegation and in no way has this incident called into question the integrity of his character".
The worker was not satisfied and appealed the findings of the investigation. The appeal hearing found that the investigation was carried out in accordance with FÁS policy on bullying. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 25th June, 2004, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 7th October,2004.
3. 1. The Union claim that there was no investigation of or reference to events complained of prior to 2000.
2. The Union claim that there was no investigation of the role of or the effect of local management's action in respect of the anonymous allegation.
3. The Union state that the worker was not afforded the opportunity to comment on the responses and statements.
4. 1. FÁS investigated all allegations notified to them in writing by the worker, the earliest of which was in 1999.
2. The investigation was carried out in accordance with the FÁS policy on bullying.
3. The investigation was conducted in a very thorough manner and all procedures both at local level and formal investigation level were exhausted in this case.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions of the parties.
The Court notes that Fás did conduct an internal investigation of the complaint of bullying made by the claimant. This investigation was considered unsatisfactory by the claimant and senior management then conducted a full re-hearing of the case on appeal. This was in accordance with good practice and relevant Codes of Practice.
However, the Court can see no justifiable reason for the organisations refusal to participate in a further appeal to a Rights Commissioner. The claimant is clearly entitled to an external appeal and in the Court's view the Rights Commisioners service is the appropriate forum for such an appeal.
The Court recommends that the parties should now refer this matter to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and a recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th October, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.