23 October 1997 Edition

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Biased Ford manager set for LRA

Questions have been raised about the impartiality of Ford plant manager Jim Collins after his appointment to the Labour Relations Agency which mediates in industrial disputes in the Six Counties. He was one of three managers who ``deliberately concealed'' information from the Fair Employment Tribunal for nearly three years in a case of discrimination by a Catholic man, Tom Irvine, against Ford. Collins was found to be shielding a senior Ford executive responsible for blocking Irvine's promotion.

Irvine was awarded £40,000 by the FET in 1996 after it found that in April 1992 his appointment to the post of training officer was blocked on the orders of Stuart Hamer, Director of Education, Training and Development at Ford Europe.

The 1996 Tribunal was also told that Collins had been involved in deliberately concealing Hamer's involvement in blocking the promotion. Despite evidence from the interviewing panel that Irvine was the best person for the job, the Tribunal found that he had been labelled an ``active Catholic'' and been ``discriminated against because of his religion and involvement in fair employment issues.''

Hamer, the man shielded by Collins, had previously attended an ``unprecedented'' meeting with 10 Protestant managers from the Belfast plant, where the managers had complained about the promotion of two Catholics.

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