Punch v W.M.G Group Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
CourtEmployment Appeal Tribunal (Ireland)
Judgment Date17 Apr 2003
Judgment citation (vLex)[2003] 4 JIEC 1701

Employment Appeals Tribunal

EAT: Punch v W.M.G Group Ltd

Abstract:

Employment law - EAT - Sick leave - Dismissal - Company re-organisation - Production problems leading to stress in workplace - Sick leave - Whether constructively dismissed - Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 - 2001

EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL

CASE NO.

UD206/2001

CLAIM(S) OF:

Jim (James) Punch, 85 Beech Park, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

against

W.M.G. Group Ltd., Churchfield, Cork

L.D.G. Twinseal Ltd., Churchfield, Cork

under

UNFAIR DISMISSALS ACTS, 1977 TO 2001

I certify that the Tribunal

(Division of Tribunal)

Chairman:

Mr J. Sheedy

Members:

Mr. P. &Leary

Mr K. O'Connor

heard this claim at Cork on 11th October 2001

and 12th June 2002

and 13th June 2002

and 10th March 2003

Facts Claimant rose to position of production manager following years of service and company re-organisations. A faulty machine caused a lot of work disruption with deadlines and affected the claimant's ability to do his job. He found the job increasingly stressful and on doctor's advise too sick leave. On inquiring about returning to work he was told his job was gone and he would be given a different job. He didn't return. The respondents conceded the work was stressful.

Held The Tribunal determined (by majority) that the claimant had been constructively dismissed and awarded him Eur 2,101.

The determination of the Tribunal was as follows:-
Claimant's Case
1

The Tribunal heard evidence from the claimant. He has been in the glass business since 1986 when he started working with the second named respondent. He was promoted to the position of supervisor in April 1987. The respondent company was bought by a named person, but the Managing Director remained the same except now with different business partners. The company then amalgamated with another company. The company was to have its glass toughening plant up and running by October 1995. The claimant was made plant manager and the plant was in the same location. As the operators in the plant got more experience they started working on evening shifts as well as day shifts. The claimant went from an hourly pay rate to a salary of Ј17,500 per annum. A new premises opened in Churchfield and a third shift started. They then started a process called Silk Screening, painting and toughening (putting ink on glass toughening). This was in 1999, the Late shift meant he was more or less held responsible for the process and was on call 24 hours, if something was to go wrong. The claimant was the only manager and there were three supervisors. The claimant was in charge of all three shifts. In Easter 2000 a difficulty arose in the company, the directors of the company were dividing and going their separate ways. In summer the managing director approached the claimant and told him that there were problems but he should not worry because when the new company opened the claimant would still be manager. The processing manager had left and the claimant would get his job, he would do the same work in the new company but they would get rid of their smaller customers and go bigger. The claimant was interviewed by the managing director, and another company senior and was told he had the job.

2

The claimant told the Tribunal, that the managing director told him that, he had no option but to accept the redundancy terminating his employment with the second named respondent. The claimant went to work on 8 August 2000 in the new company and everything was 99% the same except for new machine. The employees were also the same as before. They were told that the machine would be soon up and running but the engineer crashed his bike and couldn't set it up. They got in a man from Finland but he couldn't set up the machine properly. The machine heats the glass to 700 degrees then cools the glass very quickly and toughens it. They couldn't control the heat and the glass could be warped or not cooled properly. Within three months there were six or seven visits by engineers to fix the machine but by November there were still problems. As before there was three shifts on the machine with three supervisors. The claimant got an assistant manager. A day supervisor was sacked and the assistant manager came under pressure and left. The assistant manger was to run the toughening plant and the claimant was to run the processing plant. This left the claimant spending a lot of time “chasing his tail”. There were problems after problems with the machine. The claimant received phone calls sometimes at night. The supervisors got frustrated, the claimant would phone the engineer who installed the first machine for advice. The glass was uncontrollable in the machine.

3

The claimant would get two calls a week from the night staff at any time during the night. With the old machine the claimant would get only the occasional call but the new machine he got five times as many calls. The claimant felt that there was no more he could do, production was down because of the machine. He complained to his bosses including the managing director but was told to keep going. The machine was under a service contract to the company who supplied it but they couldn't fix it. The engineer who was with the company had left and was out on his own. He was coming to...

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