INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioners Recommendation R-036985-Ir-05/MMG
2. The dispute concerns a written warning that was issued to the worker for what the Company considered a serious incident of misconduct. The worker is a driver for the Company. He covers the West Dublin area in the morning and does a Waterford run in the afternoons. The Company's case is that on the 18th of January, 2005, the worker returned to the depot at 12.15 p.m. to collect goods for the Waterford run. He was told that there would be a short delay due to a systems IT error. The worker immediately advised the Operations Manager that he was refusing to do the run. He was suspended with pay pending an investigation. Following a disciplinary meeting in March, 2005, the worker was issued with a written warning due to his unreasonable behaviour. The warning was due to remain for one year on his record. The worker's case is that the incident was just one of a number that had occurred and that the Company was not honouring its agreements with him.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner and his recommendation was as follows:
Both parties presented detailed, verbal and written submissions to the hearing.
Having carefully considered the evidence as presented I am of the opinion that for the failure to carry out a reasonable instruction by management that the company has issued a suitable sanction on this occasion and I recommend that the warning be upheld on behalf of the company.
I feel that it is important to note that warnings that are issued are indeed only that and it is to be encouraged that all parties learn from the opportunity afforded by issuing and receiving such warnings. They are meant to be a sanction exercised against particular situations and therefore I do not consider the previous history as detailed by the company to be appropriate within this particular hearing. However I cannot formulate the impression that this was in any way a vindictive strike by the company against the employee. In other words I am saying that this particular warning is the only one on the record at the moment and against this specific issue and not one which either party would wish to see it progress further.
Therefore, notwithstanding my recommendation which upholds the warning as issued by the company; it should not act as a bar to any further dialogue the parties may wish to enter such that there is a clarity of position and no further misunderstandings should occur.
The worker appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 8th of March, 2006, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 4th of July, 2006.
3. 1. The worker has an excellent record with the Company. He had been out sick before the incident in question and when he returned to work he found that conditions had changed for the worse.
2. The incident in question was not the first time that there were delays in making his run. He found that his hours of work were getting longer.
4. 1. The worker's immediate refusal to complete his run was an over-reaction and totally unacceptable. The driver who replaced him finished the run in normal time. There was only a half-hour delay in starting the run.
2. The worker received guaranteed overtime every week which covers such eventualities as the delay that occured.
3. The Company was fully justified in determining that the worker's behaviour warranted disciplinary action.
The Rights Commissioner, after hearing all aspects of the arguments presented, concluded in his final comments,
"notwithstanding my recommendation which upholds the warning as issued by the Company; it should not act as a bar to any further dialogue the parties may wish to enter such that there is a clarity of position and no further misunderstandings should occur".
The Court upholds the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner in its entirety and urges the parties to engage within the spirit of that recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.