Murphy v Sanmina-SCI Ireland Ltd

CourtEmployment Appeal Tribunal (Ireland)
Judgment Date11 September 2003
Judgment citation (vLex)[2003] 9 JIEC 1101
Date11 September 2003

Employment Appeals Tribunal

EAT: Murphy v Sanmina-SCI Ireland Ltd.


Employment law - EAT - Unfair dismissal - Redundancy - Whether redundancy situation existed - Whether selection criteria fair - Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2001





Brendan Murphy, Guileen, Whitegate, Co. Cork


Sanmina-SCI Ireland Limited, Rathealy Road, Fermoy, Co. Cork



I certify that the Tribunal

(Division of Tribunal)


Ms. K.T. O'Mahony B.L.,


Mr. P. Casey

Mr. K. O'Connor

heard this claim in Cork on 3 April 2003

Facts The claimant was employed by the respondent company. In November 2001 the company was considering making people redundant but instead decided to offer employees the opportunity to continue working in lower positions for less pay (roll-back) and they would be rolled forward again as business improved. The claimant was selected for roll-back. The claimant refused to accept roll-back and was made redundant.

Held in finding that the dismissal was fair that a redundancy situation existed in the respondent company. The criteria used for the selection of workers to be laid off were fair and reasonable and were fairly applied. The respondent offered the claimant the option of roll-back or redundancy and the claimant opted for redundancy.


The determination of the Tribunal was as follows:

Respondent's Case

The Human Resources Manager of the respondent company told the Tribunal that the respondent is an electronic contracts manufacturing company. The respondent's fortunes fluctuated. The average workforce was about 800 employees and the respondent is one of the largest employers in the Cork area. There was a core workforce and a flexible workforce which is made up of temporary workers who are taken on when business improves and are laid off when there was a downturn. There were production operators, section leaders (who organised the schedule), junior supervisors and supervisors. A junior supervisor would have spent a number of years as a section leader. A junior supervisor's work was almost the same as that of a supervisor.


The claimant was first taken on as a production operator. He was made a section leader. He left to be a production supervisor with another company. The respondent later had a production supervisor position. After a discussion about salary the respondent hired the claimant back as a production supervisor. When the respondent had an indication that business was improving, it would have to get additional people and supervisors. The role of a production supervisor was to plan production, hire and motivate workers, and to deal with performance. A production supervisor could work in any area of the respondent's business or for any customer, they are not hired for any particular customer as the respondent could not ensure that it could retain a customer. The respondent had to be able to move a production supervisor.


In March 2001, there were752 production operators out of 1040 workers in the plant. Between 500 and 550 of the operators were permanent and the rest were temporary. In the period from August 2001 to the end of that year (which also included the September 11 attacks in New York) the respondent, like all in the IT sector, experienced a downturn in business and orders were reduced or postponed. Twice that year, the respondent had fairly large lay-offs from its flexible workforce. In October, the respondent had to look at permanent employees and the indirect workers (those not involved in production) which includes supervisors, clerks and technicians and engineers. Senior management met regularly and monitored the situation on a week-to-week basis. As permanent operators left they were not replaced. The respondent also looked at ways of cutting costs. Enforced holidays were brought in. The aim of the respondent was to retain jobs, especially of the indirect workers because they wanted to retain their knowledge and skills within the company.


About the end of October/early November, management considered making people redundant. It felt that things could improve in around February 2002 so they looked at alternatives. The witness contacted the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and was advised that it is better to have lay-off for a definite period and not to continue it for more than two months. It was hard to predict...

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