INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
SMURFIT CORRUGATED CASES
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioners Recommendation IR19055/04/JC.
2. The case concerns a one and one half week's unpaid suspension imposed on the worker because of an altercation which took place between the worker and the Dispatch Manager. (Another employee was also present at the incident.) The suspension had originally been for 3 weeks but was halved on an internal appeal. The altercation involved whether a door to a locker room should have been shut or not. Both parties had different views and supplied details of the incident to the Court. There were also different interpretations as to what the worker meant when he said"you and me, let's sort this out"- management believed that it was an invitation to fight with the Dispatch Manager whereas the worker states that it was to sort things out verbally.
The Union referred the case to a Rights Commissioner and her recommendation was as follows:-
"I recommended that the decision to suspend the claimant without pay for aggressive and threatening behaviour be removed from the claimant's record.
I recommend against the claim for payment of compensation to the claimant including any payment in respect of the one and one half's week's suspension period".
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 7th of December, 2004, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 10th of March, 2005.
3. 1. Management took statements from the three people present at the incident and, without further investigation or interview, suspended the worker concerned for three weeks without pay. Clearly, fair procedure was not afforded in this case.
2. The worker had a good record of 25 years' service with the Company.
3. The Rights Commissioner's recommendation to remove the worker's suspension from his record but not to repay him the one and one half week's pay is not logical.
4. 1. The Company viewed the worker's threat of physical violence as gross misconduct. The offence warranted dismissal but because of the worker's long service he was suspended for three weeks and this was later reduced to one and one half weeks.
2. The Company at all times followed agreed procedures and afforded the worker all his rights under the Company/Union agreement.
Having heard all the evidence made available to the Court on the day of the hearing, the Court agrees with the effect of the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner. The Court, accordingly, dismisses the appeal.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th March, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.