Iarnród Éireann v Holbrooke
|Mr. Justice O'Neill
|14 April 2000
| IEHC 47
|No. 7690 p/1999
|14 April 2000
 IEHC 47
THE HIGH COURT
Employment; industrial dispute; recognition of representative unions; plaintiff seek damages from defendants for losses suffered due to two stoppages of the rail services; plaintiffs claim defendants are liable for damages for procuring breaches of plaintiffs commercial contracts or for actionable conspiracy; plaintiff also seeks declaration that twelfth named defendants, the Irish Locomotive Drivers" Association (I..L.D.A.), are not entitled to negotiate and conclude agreements about employees of plaintiffs as they are not an authorised trade union possessing a negotiation licence; I.L.D.A. issued a counterclaim on this issue; both plaintiffs and defendants claim injunctions in aid of declaratory relief claimed by each of them; whether defendants did definitely and unequivocally persuade, induce or procure a breach of contract; whether I.L.D.A is a representative union; whether plaintiffs under statutory duty to negotiate with I.L.D.A if they are a representative union; whether I.L.D.A are an excepted body; Trade Union Acts, 1924 and 1941
Held: I.L.D.A are not an excepted body or a representative union as they do not posses a negotiation licence; plaintiffs entitled to declaratory relief, defendants counterclaim dismissed; defendants had not induced a breach of contract.
Iarnród Éireann v. Holbrooke - High Court: O'Neill J. - 14/04/2000
The defendants were members of a recently formed trade union, the Irish Locomotive Drivers Association ("the ILDA"). The plaintiffs initiated proceedings against the defendants seeking damages arising out of certain stoppages. The plaintiffs claimed, inter alia, that the defendants had induced workers to breach their contracts of employment. The defendants denied such a responsibility and sought declarations, inter alia, that the ILDA was an excepted body within the meaning of the Trade Union Acts and was representative of railway employees. O'Neill J was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the defendants were liable for the losses suffered by the plaintiffs arising out of the stoppages that had occurred. The ILDA were not an excepted body within the meaning of the Trade Union Acts and was not a representative union within the meaning of the Railways Act, 1924. The plaintiffs were granted declarations to that effect.
TRADE UNION ACT 1941 S3(3)
RAILWAYS ACT 1924 S55
TRADE UNION ACT 1941 S6
ARMSTRONG MOTORS LTD V CORAS IOMPAIR EIREANN (CIE) UNREP SUPREME 16.12.1975
MCGOWAN V MURPHY UNREP SUPREME 10.4.1967
MASKELL V CORAS IOMPAIR EIREANN (CIE)
CONNOLLY V LOUGHNEY
TRADE UNION ACT 1942 S2
TRADE UNION ACT 1941 S6(1)
TRADE UNION ACT 1941 S6(3)
NATIONAL COAL BOARD V NATIONAL UNION OF MINE WORKERS
FEDERATION OF IRISH RAIL & ROAD WORKERS V GREAT SOUTHERN RAILWAYS CO 1941 IJ 33
TRANSPORT REORGANISATION (CIE) ACT 1986 S14
TRANSPORT SALARIED STAFFS ASSOC (TSSA) V CORAS IOMPAIR EIREANN (CIE)
ABBOTT & WHELEN V IRISH TRANSPORT & GENERAL WORKERS UNION (IT & GWU) UNREP MCWILLIAM 2.12.1980 1981/1/1
NATIONAL UNION OF RAILWAY WORKERS V O'SULLIVAN
KERR & WHYTE IRISH TRADE UNION LAW 19
O CEARBHAILL V BORD TELECOM EIREANN UNREP SUPREME 20.12.1993 1994/6/1571 1994 ELR 54
JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice O'Neill delivered the 14th day of April, 2000.
The first named eleven Defendants in these proceedings are all locomotive drivers and are in the employment of the Plaintiffs. These defendants are also the members of the National Executive Committee of the twelfth named Defendant, which Association was joined as a co-Defendant in these proceedings by Order of Miss Justice Laffoy made on the 8th day of October 1999.
In these proceedings the Plaintiffs seek damages from all of the Defendants for the losses that they claim to have suffered arising out of two stoppages which occurred in the rail service, one on the 9th day of July 1999 and the other on the 11th day of July 1999, which stoppages the Plaintiffs claim were brought about by the actions of the-Defendants and in respect of which the Plaintiffs claim that all of the Defendants are liable for damages for procuring breaches of the Plaintiffs" commercial contracts or, in the alternative, for actionable conspiracy.
In addition the Plaintiffs claim declarations to the effect that the twelfth named Defendants (hereinafter referred to as I.L.D.A.) are not entitled to negotiate and conclude agreements pertaining to the terms and conditions of service of employees of the Plaintiffs who are members of I.L.D.A., and that the Plaintiffs are required as a matter of law to negotiate and conclude such agreements only with authorised trade unions recognised for such a purpose and possessing negotiation licences. The Defendants counterclaim for declarations to the effect that I.L.D.A. is an excepted body within the meaning of Section 3(3) of the Trade Union Act, 1941as amended and that I.L.D.A. is a trade union, representative of railway employees within the meaning of Section 55 of the Railways Act, 1924and that the Plaintiffs are required to reach agreement with I.L.D.A. together with other trade unions representative of railway employees in order to amend the agreement relating to rates of pay, hours of duty and other conditions of service of locomotive drivers made about the month of May 1994.
Both the Plaintiffs and Defendants claim injunctions in aid of declaratory relief claimed by each of them.
There is a third aspect to the proceedings and that is a further counterclaim by the third named Defendant, Brendan Ogle, in which he claims declaratory and injunction relief in relation to disciplinary proceedings brought against him by the Plaintiffs. An interlocutory application by way of Notice of Motion was made to this Court on the 11th day of October 1999 in which, inter alia, an interlocutory injunction restraining the Plaintiffs from proceeding with the disciplinary process against the third named Defendant was claimed. On that application the Plaintiffs gave an undertaking not to proceed with the disciplinary proceedings against the third named Defendant pending the determination of these proceedings.
In the course of the trial an application was made to me by the Defendants to amend the defence by expanding the claims made by the third named Defendant in respect of these disciplinary proceedings. I refused that application. In the event the reliefs claimed in the third Defendant's counterclaim were not pursued at the trial.
The dispute between the Plaintiffs and Defendants has its origins in the reaction of a significant number of locomotive drivers to the negotiation, through the collective bargaining process conducted under Section 55 of the Railways Act of 1924, of a new collective agreement in 1994. Some locomotive drivers were very unhappy with some of the terms of that new agreement and also the manner in which they claimed the ballot whereby it came to be approved on behalf of locomotive drivers, was, conducted. In these respects they claimed that they had been badly let down by their unions, namely the Services, Industrial and Professional Trade Union (hereinafter referred to as S.I.P.T.U.) and the National Bus and Railway Union (hereinafter referred to as the N.B.R.U.). Such was the state of dissatisfaction that these locomotive drivers felt, arising out of these events, that they determined that in future they would not leave matters solely in the hands of the unions. Hence they formed a Committee which became known as the National Locomotive Drivers Committee. This Committee was an informal cross-union grouping, its members being drawn from both S.I.P.T.U. and N.B.R.U. From 1996, this Committee was active in pursuing issues relative to the pay and conditions of locomotive drivers and in putting pressure on the two unions which represented locomotive drivers, namely, S.I.P.T.U. and N.B.R.U. In 1996 this Committee organised a petition supported by almost all of the locomotive drivers employed by the Plaintiffs, which sought a review of the pay and conditions of employment of locomotive drivers. In 1997 this Committee prepared a discussion document or a set of proposals on pay and conditions. The two unions were prevailed upon to bring these proposals to the Plaintiffs. After a good deal of protracted negotiation extending well into 1998, it became apparent to the N.L.D.C. that their proposals had been discarded and in this regard they came to the conclusion that the two unions had been only too pleased to permit that to happen. This convinced the N.L.D.C. that as a pressure group on the two representative trade unions they were a total failure. This in turn led to a decision on the part of those disenchanted locomotive drivers to form a new association and to constitute it as a trade union. At a meeting of locomotive drivers in September of 1998 this in fact was done. I.L.D.A. was formed and the first eleven Defendants were appointed as its National Executive. I.L.D.A. then proceeded to take such steps as were necessary to become a trade union and in due course an application was made to the Registrar of Friendly Societies and on the 29th July, 1999, I.L.D.A. became a trade union under the provisions of the Trade Union Act of 1871.
In the meantime the Plaintiffs looked upon the emergence of I.L.D.A. with undisguised dismay. Mr. Heenan in his evidence expressed the Plaintiffs" concern at the emergence of I.L.D.A. as...
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