Class action dismissed

A GROUP of 14 people who took a case against a Castleblayney food company have had their cases dismissed following a sitting of the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

A GROUP of 14 people who took a case against a Castleblayney food company have had their cases dismissed following a sitting of the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

The 14 people that hail from the Castleblayney and Carrickmacross area claimed that Rangeland Foods, Lough Egish Food Park, Castleblayney, had constructively dismissed them contrary to the Unfair Dismissals Act.

The dispute appeared to begin after the company lost a major contract in 2007. The company introduced new working conditions and practices which the claimaints say were intimidating. There was also tension surrounding the issue of coaching notes.

In its determinations, the EAT said: “The coaching notes were described as not being part of the disciplinary code by the employer`s side, but were intended to be helpful to the recipient in the performance of their duty. These notes were always used in the workplace but there was a very large increase in the use of these notes in the last year of the claimants` employment that had the effect of increasing the stress in the workplace.

“All the claimants gave evidence that they were put under pressure by the use of the coaching note system and as a consequence claim that they were unfairly dismissed. They all accepted redundancy. There was a grievance handling procedure for airing complaints within the employment. None of the claimants availed of the procedure. Some of the claimants did mention their difficulties to their union official but the employer was not approached on the matter. In the circumstances the Tribunal must hold that they were not unfairly dismissed.”

However, the EAT found that seven of the 14 claimants did not receive the minimum amount of notice that they were entitled to. “The Tribunal holds therefore that the employees who were dismissed in this case were entitled to their statutory minimum notice.” In total, the seven received roughly €18,000 in awards.