EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL
Airidas Gavenas – claimant
Traditional Meat Company (Ireland) Limited – respondent
UNFAIR DISMISSALS ACTS 1977 TO 2007
I certify that the Tribunal
(Division of Tribunal)
Chairman: Mr J. Revington SC
Members: Mr M. Noone
Ms M. Mulcahy
heard this claim at Dublin on 18th July 2016
Claimant: Mr Darragh McNamara BL instructed by Denis F. McDwyer & Co, Solicitors, Main Street, Killeshandra, Co. Cavan
Respondent: Ms Vanessa Costello of ESA Consultants, The Novum Building, Clonsaugh Industrial Estate, Dublin 17
The determination of the Tribunal was as follows:-
The fact of dismissal was in dispute and therefore the claimant went into evidence first.
The claimant started working for the respondent in November 2013 as a slaughter man, killing cattle, sheep and pigs. He was given a contract of employment and a staff handbook. He worked part time, an average of 16 hours over 2 days. At work the claimant would wear a chain mail vest, a guard glove and a helmet.
The claimant arrived for work at about 10.00 am on the 7th July 2015. The supervisor told him to work on splitting carcasses using a saw. Once meat production starts it takes 15 or 20 minutes for the carcasses to reach the splitting section. During this time the supervisor asked the claimant to go to first leg. This is the part of the processing where the first leg is skinned and separated from the carcass. The supervisor told him to put on a long chain mail glove on his left arm. The claimant said no to this request because the glove is very uncomfortable and it is not needed at first leg as the knife does not go near the operative’s upper arm. Also other employees were not required to wear a long glove. The supervisor responded by saying to the claimant that he was not working here any longer. The claimant, accompanied by the supervisor, collected his knives and when to the locker room to change his clothes. The claimant considered himself fired and after a few days he phoned for his p.45. He accepted that he had not formally complained about the long glove being uncomfortable to wear and neither did he raise a formal grievance.
Details of loss were given by the claimant.
A former colleague of the claimant gave evidence that he had been required to wear a long glove during training. The long glove was heavy and uncomfortable. He has a scar on his elbow caused by wearing the long glove.
On the claimant’s last day at work, he heard the supervisor tell him to put on the long glove and the claimant replied no, it is too uncomfortable. The supervisor told the claimant you don’t work here.
The managing director gave evidence. He is a butcher and he set up the business in 2007. He has done the first leg processing himself. The knife used is sharp and the non-dominant arm is at risk and that is why a long glove must be worn. Safety is important. If something cannot be done safely they do not do it. They strive for high standards but the welfare of the person is paramount.
At the start of each working day employees are given a hair net and a disposable finger guard. The finger guard is disposable plastic and is worn under the long glove to prevent friction and is used industry wide. The older models of long glove were heavy and did hang down but now with newer materials, finger guard and straps to hold it is place and irritation is less of an issue.
The claimant was a skilled and hard-working employee. He worked 2 days a week slaughtering. He was offered more work boning but he wanted to work part-time.
Following the incident the managing director told the supervisor to contact the claimant and ask him to return to work
The claimant was not dismissed. He walked off the job. His skill set is required to process beef. The managing director is on the floor every day they slaughter because he grades the beef. Wearing the long glove is essential and is the norm.
The managing director did not believe that the scar on the witness’s elbow was caused by wearing a long glove.
The Tribunal carefully considered the evidence adduced in this case. In order for the claimant’s case to succeed, he has to satisfy the Tribunal that he was in fact dismissed. Clearly an incident occurred on 7th July 2015 and afterwards the claimant did not return to work. The Tribunal was impressed by the evidence of the managing director and prefer it to the evidence given by the claimant. The Tribunal finds that the termination of the claimant’s employment was not as a result of dismissal. Therefore, the claim under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007 fails.
Sealed with the Seal of the
Employment Appeals Tribunal