INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
OMEGA TEKNIKA LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Redundancy terms.
2. The Company is involved in the pharmaceutical industry and currently employs 65 workers. It is seeking 29 full-time voluntary redundancies as a result of ceasing the production of its "Predictor" product. The Union claims that when the redundancies were announced Management confirmed that previous redundancy payments would be used as a benchmark. The Union is relying on a redundancy package from 2002 which comprised of 5.5 weeks' pay per year of service with no cap plus statutory redundancy plus an educational / retraining supplement ranging from approximately €9,000 to €11,000 depending on age. The Company's case is that the supplement only applied to three workers at that time and was paid due to specific circumstances which do not apply in the current dispute.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 25th of April, 2007.
3. 1. Employees only applied for the voluntary redundancy package after the educational / retraining supplement was referred to the Labour Court.
2. Some of the workers concerned are in positions which they have achieved through their long service. Their titles and job assignments are unlikely to be recognised by other companies as they require 3rd level qualifications thus making it very difficult for them to obtain alternative employment.
3. All proposed redundant employees will require substantial re-training and re-skilling in order to move into other employment in the manufacturing industry.
4. 1. In 2002, three of the Process Operative grade were due to be upgraded to Process Technicians. Negotiations had been ongoing on this issue since 1997. This would involve significant up-skilling and retraining and would result in a salary increase. However, the need for redundancies arose at this time and the three Process Operators were subsequently made redundant. It was decided by Management to give them a special education / retraining supplement payment.
2. The Company's offer on redundancy is very generous, yielding between €10,000 and €190,000 to workers depending on length of service.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court accepts the Company’s contention that there were special and unique circumstances which prevailed when a severance agreement was entered into on behalf of three named individuals in July 2002. The agreement provided for a “special educational retraining supplement” to be included in the compensatory payments at the time.
Furthermore, the Court is satisfied that the same circumstances do not arise in the current redundancy situation and, therefore, that there are no valid grounds to concede the Union’s claim for the application of an educational retraining supplement in the current redundancy terms.
Therefore, the Court does not recommend concession of the Union’s claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th May, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.