INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation r-036733-ir-05/JH.
2. This case concerns an appeal by the Union of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation r-036733-ir-05/JH. Wexport Limited is a pharmaceutical Company which produces bulk active pharmaceutical intermediates at its plant in Little Island, Cork.
It is a subsidiary of Leo Pharma, a Danish pharmaceutical Company. The issue in dispute concerns an incident which occurred between a Team Leader and two staff members. It is alleged that the Team Teader spoke inappropriately to the two staff members in question in relation to their duties and when they requested the Shop Steward to intervene on their behalf, it is alleged by the Team Leader that the Shop Steward spoke to him in an abusive manner.
The Company's position is that the Team Leader, who has since left the Company, reported the incident to Management immediately and an investigation was then carried out in line with the Company's Grievance Procedures resulting in a final written warning being placed on the Shop Steward's file.
The Union (on behalf of the worker) has denied that there was any inappropriate or abusive language used by the Shop Steward on the day in question. It is claimed that he merely became involved when requested by his members and subsequently complained to Management about the attitude of the Team Leader.
As provided in the Company's Grievance Procedures, the Union referred the matter to a Rights Commissioner who issued her Recommendation on 8th March, 2006, as follows:-
"I recommend that the sanction of a final written warning remain in place. I further recommend that this sanction expire on the 2nd of August 2006. I recommend that the terms of the final written warning be amended and reissued to the worker to exclude the term bullying."
The Worker was named in the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
On the 13th April, 2006, the worker appealed the Rights Commissioners Recommendation to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 7th February, 2007, in Cork.
3. 1. The Company investigated the complaint and imposed a final written warning on the Shop Steward's file. This is totally unacceptable. There were no witnesses to the events complained of by the Team Leader and Management should not have concluded that the Shop Steward was guilty of gross misconduct.
2. It is claimed that the Team Leader left the employment of the Company due to the stress of the alleged incident. This is untrue as he had previously mentioned leaving the Company to other staff members.
3. The Shop Steward was asked to assist two colleagues who were being verbally abused by the Team Leader. The Shop Steward asked the Team Leader to discuss the matter in the appropriate way with him privately, which he did not do. The Shop Steward subsequently complained to Management in relation to the Team Leader's attitude.
4. 1. The Team Leader approached Management after the incident and was obviously very upset. Management subsequently carried out an investigation in line with its Grievance Procedures and concluded that on the balance of probabilities the incident did occur as complained of by the Team Leader.
2. The sanction of final written warning was entered on the Shop Steward's file. The Company considers this to be a lenient sanction on the basis that gross misconductcould have led to the Shop Steward being dismissed.
3. The Shop Steward treated the Team Leader in a most inappropriate way. Management has the right to deal with staff issues and such abusive behaviour cannot be tolerated.
Having carefully considered both parties submissions together with all the evidence presented at the hearing, the Court concurs with the conclusions and Recommendation of the Rights Commissioner. The Court is satisfied that in all the circumstances of this case that the investigation carried out and the consequent disciplinary action taken by the Company was appropriate in the circumstances.
The Court concurs with the Rights Commissioner’s Recommendation in relation to the expiry date on the final written warning and the exclusion of the term “bullying”.
Accordingly, the worker’s appeal fails and the Rights Commissioner’s Recommendation is upheld.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th February, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.