13 January 2006

Ferry workers now told they can't stay on

Irish Independent

Nicola Anderson
13 January 2006

A GROUP of Irish Ferries workers who had hoped to stay on in their jobs have been told they are now to be made redundant.

The staff members were shocked to get letters on Wednesday telling them that they "did not qualify" to remain on in their positions.

It is understood that the number affected are in the single digits and all have temporary status.

A Siptu spokesperson said they are taking the matter up with the company.

The letter, signed by Human Resources director Alf McGrath, states that under the terms of the Labour Court agreement of December 14, a maximum of 48 existing staff could choose to remain in the employment of Irish Ferries Ltd on a 'Red Circled' basis - meaning their current pay would be protected under the new employment deal.

Regret

The letter informed them that the number seeking to remain on had exceeded the maximum number provided for and so it was necessary to reduce the number.

The letter said: "I regret to advise you that, based on the above criteria, you do not qualify for the 'Red Circle' list."

They were told they would be, therefore, made redundant and receive compensation in accordance with the Redundancy Compensation formula.

One affected person said yesterday he had been working there for two years but his 'permanent' staff status had never been rubber-stamped by the company.

He and two other colleagues - all cabin/deck crew - had chosen not to opt for the redundancy package as it would only be worth around €2,000 to them.

He claimed he had received verbal assurances from senior managers that he would be kept on and told he would be able to help with training foreign workers.

"Irish Ferries are now changing the goal posts," he said.

Package

He said he and some other temporary workers would be further hit because they would not be entitled to claim redundancy for the entire period in which they had been employed since the package effectively stopped at October 2.

A spokesman for Irish Ferries said the workers fell outside the scope of the LRC agreement with regard to 'Red Circling' and stressed that all were temporary employees.

However, he said they did qualify for the package on offer to everybody else - the two weeks statutory redundancy plus six weeks pay per completed year of service and pro rata reduction for less than a complete year. "I understand the unions are fully aware of everything the company planned to do in respect of these workers," he said.

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