INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
DUBLIN PORT COMPANY
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Recent severance package terms to be applied (5 workers).
2. The Union's case refers to a voluntary redundancy package which applied to five workers in the Company. The Union's case is as follows:- in October, 2002, the Company put forward a severance package / assisted early retirement scheme to each member of all grades. The closing date was to be 31st October, 2002. The package stated"there will be no further voluntary packages available after that date". As sufficient staff did not avail of the offer the time frame was extended. The five workers concerned were the only members of the Clerical Admin. Staff to accept the offer. In 2003, in an effort to resolve some industrial relations issue an independent facilitator was agreed in October, 2003. One of his proposals was a new voluntary early retirement package for Clerical Admin. Staff put forward in March, 2004. The Union's case is that this new package was considerably better that the package accepted by the five workers in October, 2002, (details of both packages were supplied to the Court).
The Union referred the case to the Labour Court on the 21st of September, 2005, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 19th of January, 2006.
3. 1. The last of the five workers to accept the 2002 offer did so in September, 2003. All five workers took the voluntary severance package because they had been assured that there would be no further offers. By November, 2003 - six weeks later - it was common knowledge in the Company that a new, much improved package was being prepared and would soon be available to the Clerical Administration Staff (in March, 2004).
2. There is a significant difference between the two packages. In individual terms the financial loss to four of the five workers ranges from €210,000 - €330,000.
4. 1. The five workers freely entered into discussions with the Company. They eventually agreed the terms of package and exited the Company.
2. The Company has been involved in serious downsizing and appointed a facilitator to further reduce costs. One of his recommendations was to float an improved early retirement package. This package superceded the one on offer in October 2002, which the five workers had accepted. The floating of exit packages is a normal part of Company / Union negotiations.
The severance package at issue in this case was voluntarily accepted by each of the Claimant's at the material time. This acceptance was not qualified in any way.
It is clear that a binding agreement came into being between the Company and the individuals as a result of which their employment came to an end. In the Court's view, what occurred after the Claimants ceased to be employed by the Company could not alter the finality of the agreement which they had concluded.
In these circumstances, the Court can see no merit in the claim and does not recommend its concession.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
31st January, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.