Veteran Siptu offical felt ‘betrayed’ by union after making protected disclosures alleging wrongdoing

Ger Malone tells Workplace Relations Commission management ‘conspired’ to ensure she lost her position

A veteran Siptu official who claims she was penalised by the union after making a number of protected disclosures regarding alleged wrongdoing has said she was left feeling “betrayed and distraught” by the her treatment at the hands of her employer.

Ger Malone told the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on Thursday that she believed Siptu’s management “conspired” to ensure she lost her position as chair of the union’s internal staff representation body in April 2022 and she had been left “shattered” and “traumatised” by the episode.

She told the WRC hearing in Waterford that she was left “stunned that management had managed to get me out of the position”.

Ms Malone, who had been a volunteer shop steward at the Ray-Ban factory in Waterford before taking on a full-time position with the union in 2002, said management moved against her after she became involved in supporting a colleague in a dispute with management.


In documents submitted to the WRC, she claims there was a steady deterioration over time in her relationship with line managers.

Ms Malone was speaking at the first day of her case against the union for 29 alleged acts of penalisation that she claims were linked to 17 protected disclosures she made. If successful, she could be awarded five-years’ salary.

The opening of the hearing was mainly taken up with an application to have the period under consideration extended from six months to one year, a move required by Ms Malone to have the a number of the alleged acts of penalisation that would otherwise be statute-barred considered.

Asked by the adjudication officer to explain the delay in lodging her complaint in November 2022, Ms Malone said the union prohibited employees from joining another union and having felt “betrayed” by those elected to the new representative body, she was left with “nobody to turn to”.

Karan O’Loughlin, a senior Siptu official who is representing the union in the case, said the application for an extension should be refused as the legislation “did not allow for it”.

“I perfectly understand that the complainant was very upset by the loss of that election,” she said. “But I’m not sure she had nowhere to go, it’s not in her contract that she couldn’t take independent advice. That’s in nobody’s contract.”

She added: “It’s not appropriate to give an extension because someone was feeling upset. There needs to be higher bar than that.”

The adjudicating officer said she would reserve her position on the extension pending the receipt of a written submission from the complainant.

Ms O’Loughlin said the union would need time to consider and respond to that, and also suggested that Ms Malone starting to give evidence on the issue of the 17 protected disclosures listed was problematic as no advance list of prospective witnesses had been provided and this would shape her questioning of the witness.

Anne Flynn, representing Ms Malone, said they had intended to call just one witness in relation to the protected disclosures, three of which, she said, had been conceded by the union to have been protected acts. She said they would abandon that plan in order to allow the hearing begin its consideration of the protected disclosures.

Ms O’Loughlin said while the union had conceded that three disclosures could be considered protected acts, Siptu did not accept there had been any wrongdoing on its part or any acts of penalisation against the complainant.

Having initially suggested she would press ahead and have Ms Malone start to give her evidence, the adjudicating officer said she accepted Ms O’Loughlin was concerned the union would not get a fair hearing if the case proceeded immediately.

In the face of objections from Ms Malone and her representative, she adjourned the case until June 26th to allow time for the submission on the requested extension and response.

Asked how many days she thought the hearing of the case would take at that stage, Ms Malone suggested a minimum of five. The adjudicating officer said she would set aside two days and “see where we get to with that”.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times