SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DROGHEDA RESOURCE CENTRE
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Haugh
Employer Member: Ms Connolly
Worker Member: Mr McCarthy
1. Enhanced Redundancy Payments.
2. This dispute relates to a claim for Enhanced Redundancy Payments of three former employees of Drogheda Resource Centre for the Unemployed Company Limited by Guarantee. This dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. As an agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Courton 15 January 2020, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
3. 1. The Union side said that the former employees meet the criteria to attract the payment of Enhanced Redundancy of 3.35 weeks per year of service.
2. The Union side stated that there is a national agreement in place for an ex-gratia payment of 3.35 weeks.
4. 1. The employer said that the former employees cannot be granted Enhanced Redundancy Payments due to lack of funding.
2. The employer stated that they are a voluntary organisation and are not the funding body. The employer's applications for the necessary funding from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and Louth Meath Education and Training Board were refused.
Background to the Dispute
This dispute concerns a claim for an enhanced redundancy payment for three Workers formerly employed by Drogheda Resource Centre for the Unemployed Company Limited by Guarantee (‘the Company’).
The Company is a non-profit organisation with charitable status. It has its origins in a joint venture between Drogheda Trades Council and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to address high unemployment levels in Drogheda in the late 1980s. The Workers’ salaries were funded latterly by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and Louth Meath Education and Training Board. The Company ceased operations on 13 September 2019 due to funding issues. The three Workers were dismissed on grounds of redundancy and were paid their statutory redundancy, minimum notice and holiday entitlements from the insolvency fund.
The Unions’ claim on behalf of their Members is grounded in an agreement dated September 2002, between the then Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, FẢS and the Unions that provided for enhanced redundancy terms for Community Employment Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors. The original agreement was amended in 2005 and provides for enhanced redundancy of 3.35 weeks’ pay per year of service in addition to statutory redundancy. Based on their respective periods of service with the Company, the individual Workers would receive the following amounts by way of an ex gratia redundancy payment if the terms of the agreement were applied to them:
•Worker A: €32,408.23
•Worker B: €16,341.30
•Worker C: €17, 267.81
The Company submits that it cannot concede, fund or substantiate the within claim for enhanced redundancy payments as the Workers’ salaries were funded from external sources (i.e. DEASP and LMETB).
The Parties attended a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission in August 2019 following which an application was made to the Company’s funders for additional resources in order to make the enhanced redundancy payments provided for in the 2002 Agreement. By letter dated 22 October 2019, the Intreo section of the DEASP informed the Unions that “in the case of Community Employment no enhanced redundancy funding is provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for CE Supervisors or assistant supervisors”.
The Court finds that the Workers have a legitimate expectation of receiving the enhanced redundancy payment provided for in the 2002 Agreement. The Unions, it is apparent to the Court, fully accept that the Company does not have the funds to available to it to meet the claim for an enhanced redundancy payment from its former Workers pursuant to the 2002 Agreement, as amended. The Court, therefore, recommends that the Parties redouble their efforts and jointly approach both the DEASP and LMETB to seek the necessary funding to discharge the amounts due under the Agreement to each of the three Workers.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23 March 2020Deputy Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Heather Murray, Court Secretary.