Green Isle Foods Clarification by TEEU

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[Press statement by TEEU]

February 28th, 2010,

A number of media outlets persist in describing the dispute between the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union and Green Isle Foods in Naas as being about inappropriate emails.

This is not the case.


The dispute is over the unfair dismissal of three workers and union recognition.

The Labour Court, which has adjudicated on the dispute and which heard evidence from the TEEU and from IBEC on behalf of Green Isle Foods, found that the dismissals were unjustified. It recommended the immediate return to work of the TEEU members, no victimisation and compensation for the three dismissed men totalling €180,000 if the company was not prepared to re-employ them.

The persistent misrepresentation of the dispute is extremely damaging to the TEEU members on strike and particularly distressing to the hunger strikers, who did not access inappropriate material.

 

13 Responses

  1. Small Girl

    February 28, 2010 11:47 am

    Green Isle has said “the employees in question were dismissed because of the use of hardcore pornography” (page 2 of this week’s Kildare Nationalist). If the Labour Court looked at the case and judged this an unsackable offence and reinstatement should be immediate and the workers should be paid for the time they missed working, well then Green Isle should get on with it. People don’t go on hunger strike for nothing!

    The pornography thing is part of the story yes but trotting out the pornography line while being silent on G.I.’s bad, bad management of what arose is just emotive reporting. I wouldn’t want my workmates looking at pornography on company computers during work hours but I wouldn’t want them sacked either that’s for sure.

    But as Conor says the dispute is not a moral one. The dispute is over the unfair dismissal of three workers and union recognition. QK Meats in Naas are also sticking their fingers up at SIPTU and red meat workers despite LC recommendations.

    Ref your other post on this topic, Musgraves is Supervalu and Centra (individually owned shops all buy through Musgrave’s centrallised buying system).

  2. Conor McCabe

    February 28, 2010 2:32 pm

    TEEU calls on Green Isle Foods to engage in meaningful negotiations and end negative campaign against employees

    February 28th, 2010.

    The General Secretary of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, Eamon Devoy, has called on Green Isle Foods and its parent company Northern Foods to engage in meaningful negotiations when talks resume tomorrow over the unfair dismissal of three union members. He said it was time to end its negative campaigning against its own employees.

    Two of the strikers, neither of whom was among those dismissed, are on hunger strike after the company refused to engage in talks for six months. They are shop steward Jim Wyse, now in his twelth day on hunger strike and John Guinan, now in his fifth day on hunger strike.

    “We have made serious proposals to end this dispute and indicated to the mediators areas where we believe progress can be made”, Mr Devoy said. “It is now up to the company to do likewise rather than continue making exaggerated allegations against employees.

    “The fact that the Labour Court found the men were unfairly dismissed speaks for itself. So does the award of €180,000 they should be paid if they were not reinstated.

    “We cannot have a constructive dialogue while Green Isle Foods and Northern Foods remain wedded to their black propaganda campaign. We need to sit down and talk honestly and realistically about a negotiated settlement now.”

  3. Small Girl

    March 3, 2010 10:13 am

    Something is rotten about Green Isle’s campaign to blacken these workers in the public eye. The images story was put out from the very beginning – I heard it from people living in Naas who are not connected to GI in any way and from someone who works in GI months ago.

    Companies have ways of legitimising what they do!!! Read between the lines on that one. I wonder if there’s PR consultants etc. working on this for Green Isle.

    For me, the cause of the dismissals is not important at this stage – the Labour Court has taken care of that end. What’s important is reinstating these workers or pay them their due. The men on hunger strike (and another to join today I think) and their wives and children must be in a lot of pain right now. There must be a huge weight on their colleagues and union officials. It’s time to bring this to an end.

  4. Conor McCabe

    March 4, 2010 3:02 pm

    The Labour Court ruling is below. Note the part where the unions said that the men in question did not have access to the internet, a statement which was unchallenged by Green Isle.

    FULL RECOMMENDATION

    CD/09/761
    RECOMMENDATION NO. LCR19698
    INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
    SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969

    PARTIES :
    GREEN ISLE FOODS LIMITED
    (REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS CONFEDERATION)

    – AND –

    TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION

    DIVISION :

    Chairman: Mr Duffy
    Employer Member: Mr Murphy
    Worker Member: Mr O’Neill

    SUBJECT:

    1. Dismissal of three members

    BACKGROUND:

    2. The dispute concerns what the Union claims is the wrongful dismissal of three Craftworkers. The workers had 16, 10 and 7 years’ service respectively. The Union’s case is as follows: in December, 2008, the Company made available on its IT system a folder called ” Boardroom”. Direct access was given to one engineer but it was available to anyone else in the Company by mapping the drive. In March, 2009, the engineer became concerned about a file which showed the planned termination of employment of six maintenance and he showed the file to his manager who in turn reported it to senior management. Company letters were issued to the engineer and another worker asking them to disclose their full knowledge of the “Boardroom” file and warning them that it was a serious matter which could lead to their dismissal. The Union replied to the Company stating that it was a Company error which gave the workers access to the file. Some days later the workers were dismissed.

    The matter was referred to the High Court and proceedings continued for some months. In June, 2009, the Company started separate proceedings against three workers, including the two already mentioned, for having inappropriate material in their e.mail. The third worker was also suspended. At this stage the Union was seeking to have the issue of the “Boardroom” closed as it was taking so long. The High Court report issued in June, 2009, and, in the event, the three workers were dismissed on 10th July, 2009. The Union appealed the dismissals but, following an investigation, they were upheld. Pickets were placed on the Company’s premises.

    The Union referred the case to the Labour Court on the 6th October, 2009, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 4th December, 2009. The Company did not attend the hearing but was represented by IBEC. In a statement to the Court, the Company maintained that it does not engage with Unions and that the Court was not the appropriate forum to hear the case. Its case is that the workers committed serious transgressions and that they were afforded all rights in the investigation and appeal hearings undertaken by the Company.

    UNION’S ARGUMENTS:

    3. 1. The dismissals by the Company were unwarranted and unreasonable.

    2. The workers in the Company do not have access to the internet. They should not be penalised for e.mails forwarded from outside the Company. Following an investigation it was found that the I.T System at the Company was not secure or properly monitored.

    3. All the maintenance staff have suffered a loss of wages through the dispute which has lasted 13 weeks so far.

    RECOMMENDATION :

    Having considered the uncontested submission of the Union the Court recommends as follows:-

    1. On the information before it the Court is satisfied that the dismissals in issue were unjustified.

    2. In the circumstances of this case the normal approach of the Court would be to recommend that the workers dismissed be reinstated without loss of pay.

    3. The Court notes that the Union have revised its claim and is now seeking a financial settlement for those concerned.

    4. The Court recommends that the parties engage, through an intermediary if necessary, with a view to agreeing an acceptable compensation package. This engagement should continue for one week following the date of this recommendation. If final agreement is not reached the matter should be referred back to the Court.

    5. The current dispute should be ended on the terms set out above and there should be an immediate return to work. There should be no victimisation of any type on either side.

    Signed on behalf of the Labour Court

    Kevin Duffy
    8th December, 2009. ______________________
    CON. Chairman

  5. Small Girl

    March 4, 2010 3:48 pm

    Thanks for this Conor. It’s pretty plain what’s happening here. The Leinster Leader today has announced the dispute is over. Is this case do you know?

  6. Conor McCabe

    March 4, 2010 3:57 pm

    It is, Small Girl. The men have accepted a payment agreed upon with Green Isle via an independent mediator. However, the campaign to stop the deportation of John Recto, his wife Liezel and their three children, continues.

    I think the men have a good case for defamation against the media, and it is telling that the Irish Independent pulled the story about the pornographic images from their website, which would suggest that the Irish Independent’s lawyers think so too.

    They’ve even had it pulled from Google Cache, which is also telling.

  7. Small Girl

    March 4, 2010 4:04 pm

    Jasus yisser on the ball on ILR. What’s happening now with John Recto is a major problem facing migrant workers. When employers hold work permits for non-EEA workers they basically own them and that’s more to do with state policies on immigration. The state doesn’t mind taking his taxes though. Well done on the balanced reportage.

  8. Conor McCabe

    March 4, 2010 4:14 pm

    It’s true. It’s indentured labour, a form of slavery really. and their taxes are paying for the social welfare safety net of the very people who sling racist abuse at them. Nice country we live in.

  9. Donagh

    March 4, 2010 4:33 pm

    I’m surprised at myself at being so amazed about what this dispute has revealed. The paucity of coverage the story has received in the media, and the awful corporate-lackey reporting that has been deployed (and retracted) reinforces the huge significance of this.

    Not that most people will notice.

  10. Conor McCabe

    March 4, 2010 4:35 pm

    Ditto. The viciousness of it caught me off-guard as well. It’s clear that Green Isle are union-busting, nothing more, nothing less.

  11. Hugh Green

    March 4, 2010 4:40 pm

    I hope you don’t mind me posting my entry for the Khmer Rouge Strippergram Limerick for Ireland here as I think it fits:

    On the grubby green isle the man sighed
    As he surveyed his kingdom with pride:
    “No unions round here
    Bumper profits through fear”
    And jacked off to some porn on a slide.