INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
DAKOTA PACKAGING LIMITED
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-36224-Ir-05/MMG
2. The worker was employed with the Company from March, 1994, until the 1st of July, 2005. On the 25th of April, 2005, the Company informed the Dublin Printing Group of Unions (DPGU) that it was seeking redundancies. The redundancies would affect workers from two Unions - SIPTU and the Irish Print Group (IPG) - and would only apply to workers employed since 1999.
Following a conciliation conference in May, 2005, it was agreed that six SIPTU workers would take redundancy and the IPG would engage in short-time work indefinitely. Following the commencement of short-time work on the 20th of June, 2005, a number of workers expressed an interest in taking the redundancy package, including the worker concerned who was a member of the IPG. The worker made the request in writing on the 29th of June, 2005. The Company's case is that there was already a short-term-working agreement with the worker's Union and, therefore, no need to make the worker redundant.
The worker claims that he met with management and was given redundancy figures which were to be paid to himby instalments over a 10-week period . He also claims that he was informed that the 1st of July, 2005, was to be his last day of employment. This is denied by the Company.
Following an upturn in business the Company asked all IPG workers to return to full-time work. It was informed that the worker concerned would not be returning as he had already secured work elsewhere. The case was referred to a Rights Commissioner whose recommendation is as follows;
Both parties presented detailed and comprehensive written submissions to the hearing.
In the balance of probabilities it appears that the worker was in fact most anxious to ensure his long-term employment versus the short-term operation within his current company and took the option of a new position when it became available.
A redundancy package had not been prepared for him nor accepted by the completion of the appropriate forms and cannot be retrospectively enacted though I am sure that he may genuinely, though mistakenly, have thought he would receive one.
I also note that full time operation returned the following week and therefore would seriously question whether or not a genuine redundancy was in situ.
I am of the opinion that I cannot find in favour of the worker re his alleged redundancy package but notwithstanding this I would recommend that the company acknowledge the worker's 11 years of service and afford him, as a good will gesture, without precedent or prejudice, an amount of €2,100.
(The worker was named in the above recommendation.)
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 24th of January, 2006, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th of July, 2006.
3. 1. There is no doubt that the worker was made redundant. He has not been replaced.
2. The worker put his request in writing as requested and was given details of a redundancy package, which he was agreeable to, with the final payment being made on the 18th of September, 2005.
4. 1. The Company was extremely surprised when it was informed the worker concerned would not be returning to work as there was no redundancy terms agreed with him. Whilst the Company did provide redundancy details to IPG members (at the request of the Branch Secretary) there was no undertaking to allow the worker leave.
2. In the 12 months to May, 2005, the Company processed 70 redundancies and never experienced any issues with individuals in regard to their applications.
The case before the Court concerns the Union’s appeal of a Rights Commissioner’s recommendation, which found against the worker’s claim for a redundancy payment. The Company did not appeal the recommendation.
Having investigated all aspects of this appeal, the Court notes that at the relevant time an agreement had been entered into between the Company and the Union to avail of short-time working instead of redundancy for those workers represented by IPG, whereas workers represented by SIPTU were in a position to avail of voluntary redundancy package. The worker concerned in this case was an IPG represented worker and was provided, on application, with details of a severance package which would apply if he were made redundant under the Company’s terms. However, there is no evidence to show that the Company accepted him for redundancy and neither party complied with the appropriate procedures for termination of employment in a redundancy situation.
On the contrary, the only evidence available is that the worker decided to leave the Company of his own volition on 1st July, 2005, to take up alternative employment on 5th July, 2005, without notifying the Company of his intentions and without having secured the Company’s acceptance of his application for redundancy. A letter dated 12th July, 2005, from the Company in response to his application for voluntary redundancy dated 29th June, 2005, states that his application may take several weeks to process. In fact, around this time, the Company’s situation changed with the effect that there was no longer any need for either the continuation of short-time working or further redundancies.
Therefore, the Court does not find in favour of the worker’s claim for a redundancy payment in the circumstances. Accordingly, the Court upholds the Rights Commissioner’s recommendation and recommends that the gesture of goodwill payment of €2,100 as recommended by the Rights Commissioner should be paid in full and final settlement of this claim.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.