Five construction workers who lost their jobs in the collapse of construction group Roadbridge last year have secured orders for a combined €60,000 to bring their UK severance pay up to Irish rates.
The workers, who include senior managers and foremen with decades of service at the construction group founded by Limerick businessman, the late Pat Mulcair, were also awarded between six and eight weeks’ wages as notice pay.
Siptu official Deirdre Canty, who appeared for the men, told a hearing last year that they had transferred from employment with Roadbridge Ireland Ltd to a UK-registered entity at various dates and had “brought their service with them”.
Ms Canty said the workers were paid a “much smaller” severance package than they were due upon termination on March 28th last year as their redundancy entitlements were calculated using the British system and were seeking the balance.
“Roadbridge have not entertained anything with us. We’ve been dealing with receivers. The receiver has confirmed there’s no assets to pay.”
She said that orders would have to be made against the firm in order to claim against the State’s social insurance fund.
Thomas Smith, Donal Ruane, Michael Dolan, Hugh Byrne and Stephen O’Boyle each gave evidence on their complaints under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 and the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973 and received decisions in their favour on Friday.
Three other workers, Martin King, John Walsh and James Cuffe, who had also lodged complaints on the same grounds, did not attend and had their claims rejected.
There was no representative of the company at a hearing last November and the adjudicating officer, Pat Brady, wrote that he was “satisfied” that it was on notice as correspondence had gone to its registered business address.
In the UK, redundant workers are entitled to 1.5 weeks’ pay for a year of service aged 40 and over; one week’s pay for years worked between 22 and 40, and half a week for a year worked under 22.
The UK scheme is capped at 20 years’ service and is subject to a weekly pay cap of £571 (€664).
That meant there was a difference of just 50 pence between the redundancy awards paid out by Roadbridge to Mr Ruane and Mr Dolan in spite of a 12-year difference between their time at the company.
Mr Ruane was originally paid £13,989.50 for 29 years and three months service, while Mr Dolan received £13,989 after 17 years’ service, according to the decisions published in their cases today.
The sums paid to the workers ranged from £13,704.50 and £13,989 under the British scheme.
The Irish statutory redundancy scheme pays two weeks per year of service, plus one further week’s service, with a €600 cap and no limit to the years of service that can be used to calculate the entitlement.
They have also been awarded further unspecified sums amounting to between six and eight weeks’ wages each as notice pay.
Mr Brady remarked that it “may be seen as an unusual situation in which a worker has been made redundant while working abroad” but that provision had been made for the situation in the Redundancy Payments Act.
He noted, as had been submitted by the trade union, that a worker with two years’ service in Ireland and made redundant overseas was “entitled to redundancy payment in respect of all his employment with the employer concerned”.
He added that the employer was entitled to deduct any redundancy sum paid overseas.
In the cases of Hugh Beirne, Donal Ruane, Michael Dolan, Tommy Smith and Stephen O’Boyle, he found the men had given “credible and persuasive” evidence of their work histories with Roadbridge.
He upheld their claims and awarded them sums ranging from €7,104.33 to €20,275.40 for the disparity.
He also awarded six weeks’ notice pay to Mr O’Boyle and eight weeks’ pay to the four others who prosecuted their claims.