Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has raised the continued failure to date of the Rehab Group to honour an agreement on redundancy payments to 38 vulnerable workers in Limerick in the Seanad.
The workers concerned were made redundant in April of last year, and have been engaged in struggle through their union SIPTU since then to secure the redundancy in line with a collective agreement that has been in place for over 30 years.
Last week, the Labour Court upheld SIPTU’s claim that Rehab can afford to pay up.
Addressing the Minister in the Seanad, the Limerick-based Senator said:
“Last week SIPTU won a significant victory at the Labour Court, after the third and final round of hearings, it determined that it could “find no clear and undisputed basis not to uphold the existing collective agreement and consequently recommends that it be respected.
“In April 2021 when the workers lost their jobs, instead of offering 4 weeks per year of service plus statutory uncapped as per the long-standing agreement with SIPTU, Rehab offered just 2 weeks plus statutory capped at one years salary.
“Workers described it as a slap in the face. One worker, who worked with the company for 30 years, said he should have been entitled to €60,000 redundancy but he was offered just over €21,000.
“Many of these workers include people with visual impairments, learning difficulties, and downs syndrome. They lost their jobs in the middle of a pandemic. Some of these workers had given decades of service.
“Regrettably, Rehab Group management made a unilateral decision to depart from a well-established redundancy agreement with SIPTU, a decision that was totally unacceptable and an affront to the principles of equality and fairness.”
“A financial analysis of the Rehab Group, carried out earlier this year after an earlier Labour Court recommendation showed the Group has over €20 million cash/cash equivalents, as well as €54 million in assets and can well afford to honour this agreement.
“The same analysis also highlighted expenditure of €813,000 in packages paid to senior management in 2018 and 2019, as well as another significant but unspecified amount paid in 2020.”
“The Minister must give a clear call on the management of Rehab to honour the existing redundancy agreement, as endorsed by the Labour Court.
“The Rehab Group receives significant funding each year from the state. It has been demonstrated that it can afford to honour redundancy agreement for these workers who are amongst the most vulnerable in the state.”