5 July 2007 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Standards tightened on employee references

The 26 County Labour Court has ruled that employers in the recruitment process must adopt fair, comprehensive and reasonable standards for evaluating applicant references.
The decision was issued in the case of a woman whose job offer was rescinded upon receipt of an unsatisfactory reference.  Her SIPTU representative told the Court that she had been given a draft contract and led to believe that the referee process was merely a formality, and consequently had tendered her resignation with her previous job.
The Court held that the prospective employer, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, had “failed to apply fair and equitable standards of natural justice in dealing with the interpretation of the referee’s responses”. She was awarded €15,000.


NIPSA backs Israeli boycott

The largest Six County trade union has voted this week to condemn Israel’s human rights violations in Palestine.
The motions, which were passed unanimously, also denounced the US and European Union for their decision to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority in punishment for the election of Hamas.
In addition, NIPSA voted to support solidarity campaigns with the people of Palestine, divestment from Israeli companies and a boycott of Israeli goods and services.
This follows on from a decision last week by UNISON, Britain’s largest trade union, to back an “economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott” of Israel in protest against its ongoing occupation of Palestine.


Garda whistleblower case proceeds

Meanwhile, the Labour Court has agreed to hear a case by a Garda who alleges he faced retribution after making a health and safety complaint.
Garda Philip V. Kirwan claims that his overtime was sharply reduced and a subsistence allowance discontinued after he reported infringements of the health and safety laws in his area of responsibility, the protection of public buildings.
The Department of Justice denies that he was penalised and further argues that he has no legal grounds for complaint, as the alleged actions occurred a few months before the relevant legislation came into effect on 1 September 2005. 
Garda Kirwan claims that some of the actions took place after 1 September. The Labour Court agreed to decide whether any of these qualify as unfavourable treatment arising from his health and safety complaint.


Minimum wage increases

The 26 County minimum wage has increased as of 1 July, going from €8.30 to €8.65 per hour for employees classified as “experienced adult” workers.
Underage workers are entitled only to 70% of the minimum wage and will therefore see an increase from €5.81 to €6.06 per hour.  Slightly higher, but still sub-minimum, rates are available to trainees and to adults in their first or second year of employment.
The minimum wage in the Six Counties remains at £5.35 for workers over 21, £4.45 for those in the 18-21 age group and £3.30 for 16- and 17-year-olds.  These figures are due to increase in October to £5.52, £4.60 and £3.40 respectively.

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