Union calls on Rehab to honour Labour Court recommendation on redundancy terms

Employees were paid significantly less than terms specified in agreement with company when Limerick logistics centre shut down last year

Siptu has called on the Rehab Group to honour the terms of its agreement with the union and pay more than 30 employees who lost their jobs at a logistics centre in Limerick last April the additional redundancy payments to which it says they are entitled.

The union says that a Labour Court case, taken on behalf of 38 former workers at Rehab Enterprises in Raheen, ended last month with a recommendation that the company pay the money which the company had said would amount to some €900,000.

Rehab Enterprises said that it could not afford to honour the terms of an existing collective agreement between the wider Rehab group and the union which provided for redundancy terms of six weeks’ wages per year of service with no cap, and offered instead to pay statutory plus an additional two weeks’ money per year of service up to a maximum ceiling of a year’s salary.

After the union took the case to the Labour Court a financial expert was appointed to investigate whether the company, which is the largest employer of workers with disabilities in the State, could afford the higher figure.

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He found that while Rehab Enterprises might not be able to pay the money, it had a history of receiving funds from the wider group and there was, therefore, the potential for it to come with the required funds.

The Labour Court subsequently recommended last month that it do so and the company wrote to its former employees in late November saying that it would consider the situation.

On Tuesday, Siptu, which says the difference between the two levels of payment amounts to tens of thousands of euro in a number of cases, called on the company to honour the Labour Court decision without further delay.

“We are particularly concerned that a body in receipt of State funds appears to be delaying implementing a recommendation from another State body,” said Robbie Purfield.

“We have been in contact with politicians across all parties who support the position of our members. We are also considering further actions we may take if the Rehab Group continues to delay in honouring the Labour Court recommendation.”

In a statement, Rehab said the closure of the Raheen operation had been necessary due it having been lossmaking for a number of years, which was acknowledged by the Labour Court in its ruling.

“Rehab Group is not Rehab Enterprise Ltd,” it said, “and has broader responsibilities, legal obligations, and constraints on how it can use any reserves. These are restricted by the funding providers for specific use in the delivery of services to the people who use those services.

“However, the final Labour Court recommendation is currently being taken through the appropriate internal governance process, and we will be able to revert to those impacted as soon as we are able to do so. We do recognise that this process is challenging for the former Enterprise employees in Limerick   

“We have and continue to engage with Siptu who are aware of the internal processes required and the fact that that this will take time to complete.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times