8 February 2007 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe By Stephanie Lord

Labour Court can hear case against Ryanair

The Supreme Court this week ruled that the Labour Court has jurisdiction to investigate IMPACT’s case against Ryanair. The union have claimed that this now sends a message to workers throughout the state that they are entitled to professional representation and fundamental workplace rights. However, the Supreme Court also found in the same ruling that the procedures used by the Labour Court had some flaws and it has remitted the case back to the Labour Court for consideration. IMPACT representative Michael Landers said, “We are somewhat disappointed but we see it as no more than a temporary setback. However, the Supreme Court has upheld the power of the Labour Court to make findings in such cases where employers refuse to recognise trade unions. We look forward to an early rehearing and believe we have a very strong case which we will present to the Labour Court, in full accordance with the guidelines and principles laid down by the Supreme Court today,” said Mr Landers.

The 2004 Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act doesn’t compel companies to recognise unions. But it gives the Labour Court powers to make binding rulings against non-union firms in certain circumstances. It was this act that  the unions brought the case on originally. In January 2005, the Labour Court said it had jurisdiction to hear the case. Ryanair had refused to negotiate about the dispute, which concerns issues about training for a new fleet of aircraft. The case has been watched closely by other Irish and European trade unions.

Last year, the High Court also ruled against Ryanair in another case, which it took against IMPACT and its representatives, as well as the British pilots’ union BALPA. That case arose after Ryanair sought to identify pilots who anonymously posted messages on an independent website for Ryanair pilots. The presiding judge said the real purpose of the company’s investigation was to “break the resolve” of pilots, who were seeking better terms and conditions. He said Ryanair’s attempt to force pilots to pay the company €15,000 in training costs if it was required to engage in collective bargaining, or if they left within five years, was “most onerous and bordering on oppression.”

Women graduates earn €4K less than male counterparts

Despite 30 years of equal pay legislation there is still a huge gender gap in starting salaries for graduates in the south. According to a new report by the Higher Education Authority, women graduates are likely to earn €4,000 less a year at the starting point of the pay scale, when compared to a male graduate with the same qualifications. According to the Equality Authority, there is still a 15% pay gap between men and women in the 26 counties.


Government’s “astounding contempt” for constituents

Dublin Regional Secretary for SIPTU Patricia King this week condemned the failure of any government party TDs to attend a meeting held in Liberty Hall on the issue of decentralisation. Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD attended the union meeting on behalf of Sinn Féin.

King said: “Over 300 people attended the meeting in Liberty Hall last night to express their concerns about the proposed relocation of the headquarters of 16 specialist semi-state agencies around the country. I find it amazing that not one TD from Fianna Fáil or the PDs attended. I do not know if it was out of cowardice, or arrogance, or a combination of both, but it shows an astounding contempt for their own constituents.”


Bus Eireann must re-employ driver

Bus Eireann has been told by the Employment Appeals Tribunal to re-engage a driver after it had been shown that the company had not attempted to find suitable alternative employment for him elsewhere within the company. The driver’s eyesight had deteriorated as a result of a medical condition and he was deemed to be unfit for his position, however Bus Eireann said that they were no longer able to employ him at all. Union representatives testified at the hearing, and demonstrated that the company were able to employ the former driver and the tribunal ruled that he be employed elsewhere within the company and this be backdated to the date of his original dismissal.



An Phoblacht
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