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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 7 Nov 1967

Vol. 230 No. 12

Redundancy Payments Bill, 1967: Report and Final Stages.

Amendment No. 1, in the name of Deputy M. O'Leary, with which perhaps we could take amendment 7a, which is consequential.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

"‘business' includes a trade, industry, profession or undertaking or any activity carried on by a person or body of persons whether corporate or unincorporate or by a public or local authority or a Department of State and the performance of its functions by a public or local authority or a Department of State".

Added to the amendments we have already suggested, we move this amendment to further strengthen the Bill and give it more comprehensive coverage. On this point of strengthening the Bill, perhaps I should say at this stage that my Party wish in some respects to compliment the Minister on the constructive attitude he has taken during the passage of the Bill in respect of matters we have brought up which we thought might help to improve the Bill. We feel that with this spirit we can further improve the Bill.

I will accept the Labour Party amendment. However, its acceptance would involve the deletion of the definition of "business" and I have tabled amendment 7a which would be consequential on accepting amendment No. 1.

Co-operation officially and unofficially.

The definition of "business" would be the definition in the Labour Party amendment?

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

"‘lay-off' has the meaning assigned to it by section 11 (1);".

This is to meet a point made by Deputy Jones that, where a term is defined in a section of the Bill but is used in an earlier section, it should be included in the definition section again. Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are all designed to meet the situation.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 5, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

"‘short-time' has the meaning assigned to it by section 11 (2);".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

"‘the Tribunal' has the meaning assigned to it by section 39 (1);".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 5, in the name of Deputy O'Leary and other members of the Labour Party, has been ruled out of order.

We are contesting this because I read in the press last week a suggestion that one particular undertaking would come under the terms of this Bill. The Minister knows that during the past year when we were pressing for the passage of this Bill, we suggested some retrospective provision should be part of it. I read in the press last week that at least one undertaking, Rawsons of Dundalk, was expected to come within the terms of the Bill.

There will be no retrospection in this Bill. Anything which would be done in the particular case would be done separately.

If Rawsons are to be covered in that connection, I would have thought that Brittains and Lincoln and Nolans, two factories in which workers have been laid off, would also be covered.

The Deputy is doing a disservice to that cause. I think we had better leave it. There will be no retrospection in this Bill.

We cannot have a discussion on amendment No. 5 since it has been ruled out of order.

Could consideration be given to ex gratia payments in cases of this kind?

It would be very difficult to do it, but as far as this Bill is concerned, I could not agree to retrospection.

These are immediate cases.

I do not want to cut across amendment No. 5 since it has been ruled out of order, but may I be permitted to make one short comment? There is another aspect of this which is entirely overlooked, that is, that if there is no retrospective date fixed, smart employers will be allowed to re-employ workers for a period longer than 26 weeks, putting them outside the scope of the Bill. I am talking about what we referred to as long-term seasonal workers, and perhaps the Minister would have a look at that aspect.

I undertook that if I got evidence of evasion, I would take legislative measures to deal with it.

Unfortunately after the evidence is given, there will be no point in talking about it because the Bill will be law.

Undertakings have closed down in the past few weeks.

I am not talking about undertakings closing down.

We are discussing this, whether you like it or not, Sir.

The matter may not be discussed, as it has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 5 not moved.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 5, to delete lines 45 to 49, and in page 6, to delete line 1, and substitute the following:

"(2) This Act shall not apply to persons who work, or are normally expected to work, with the same employer for less than 21 hours in a week."

Amendments Nos. 9, 18 and 23, which are consequential, may be taken with No. 6.

Yes; I shall deal with them together.

This is accepting the Labour Party amendment.

This is accepting the suggestions put to me by Members on all sides.

It was an amendment by the Labour Party.

I did say that in relation to young workers I would be willing to accept something which I had, at an earlier stage, refused. The context in which I said it was that I would be more willing to accept the case of the 16 to 20-year-old than something else which had been advocated by the Labour Party, and I think I had better put on record all we have done in the amendments. The first proposal is to bring within the scope of the Bill all part-time workers who normally work for 21 or more hours per week for the same employers. That was the reduction that was not previously mentioned by the Labour Party. The next thing was to reduce the lower age limit to 16 years of age, and I undertook to consider raising the upper age limit to 70, and the amendments give effect to this. This widens the scope of the Bill to apply it to all workers who are insured for all the benefits under the Social Welfare Acts, except part-time employees who work for less than 21 hours per week. It brings the scope of the Bill into line with the social welfare code.

Except that we think 21 should be 17.

I am talking about 16 to 70. When I agreed to take 16 as a starting age, I explained to the House that I started off by taking an age of 18 because of the belief that with a four-year qualifying requirement starting at 16, 20 would be too young for a person to be given a redundancy payment. I felt that at least he should be 22. I still have doubts about giving the redundancy payment to people at 20 years of age. However, at some later stage when I had been pressed to accept something which I found contrary to the principle of the Bill, I said I would prefer to accept the proposal to allow a person of 20 to get a redundancy payment. Having said that and having reflected on it, I decided to accept the inclusion of persons at 16 years of age without insisting on the 22 years of age minimum for benefit. Another consideration is that by specifying 22 we were making a qualifying period of six years for some persons as against four years for others. That is the explanation. The rest has been agreed by the House and the House sought what I am now proposing.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 6, line 4, after "household" to insert "(including an employee who is employed at agricultural, maintenance or other work connected with the household)".

I think this is consequential.

I am advised it is not necessary, since we have accepted No. 1 which broadens the definition of "business".

I do not see in what sense the Minister thinks it is not necessary. Our idea is to provide for the actual operatives involved.

Having accepted No. 1, we are covering what the Deputies wish to cover by this amendment. The people drafting the Bill advise me it is not necessary.

That is not correct and the people drafting it would need to have another look at it. It is quite obvious that it is necessary.

Will the existing provision suffice, having regard to what the Minister says, that they are covered?

I understand that this is not necessary.

Is this good enough and does it mean there will be no question of going to the tribunal or the board to discuss this matter?

We feel it strengthens No. 1, and that is why we put it down. Does it harm the Bill?

My advice is that it is not necessary.

There will not be need for interpretation of this?

My advice is that what Deputy Mullen says is true, that by accepting the first amendment, we are covering the people whom it is sought to cover in this amendment.

In all cases that arise, we can quote your good self?

I do not think that would be enough. If the Deputies like, I shall take further advice on it.

That is all right.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 7a:

In page 6 to delete lines 35 to 37.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 8 has been ruled out of order. It was rejected on Committee Stage.

Amendment No. 8 not moved.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 7, line 49, to delete "18 years" and substitute "16 years".

This is consequential.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 8, between lines 53 and 54, to insert the following:

"(3) (a) An employee shall not be taken for the purposes of this Part as having been dismissed by his employer if—

(i) he is re-engaged by another employer (hereinafter referred to as the new employer) immediately on the termination of his previous employment,

(ii) the re-engagement takes place with the agreement of the employee, the previous employer and the new employer,

(iii) before the commencement of the period of employment with the new employer the employee receives a statement in writing on behalf of the previous employer and the new employer which—

(A) sets out the terms and conditions of the employee's contract of employment with the new employer,

(B) specifies that the employee's period of service with the previous employer will, for the purposes of this Act, be regarded by the new employer as service with the new employer,

(C) contains particulars of the service mentioned in clause (B), and

(D) the employee notifies in writing the new employer that the employee accepts the statement required by this subparagraph.

(b) Where in accordance with this subsection an employee is re-engaged by the new employer, the service of that employee mentioned in paragraph (a) (ii) shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be service with the new employer."

This is a complicated matter which was raised by Deputy Mullen and Deputy Booth on Committee Stage. Both asked me to widen the definition of "associated companies" in the Bill so as to include companies that are associated by one having a holding of 25 per cent or more in the other. I explained on Committee Stage the difficulties involved in moving away from the already accepted definition of "associated companies". That definition, as I explained to the House at the time, was a definition based on one company being a subsidiary of another and this is defined in the Companies Act, 1963. I was satisfied, and still am satisfied, that we should not go outside that definition of "associated company".

However, I was at the time in sympathy with the intention expressed by Deputy Mullen and I accept that when a worker transfers from one employer to another, it might in certain circumstances be desirable that he should be able to carry with him the service he had with his first employer and to preserve the continuity of his employment even though he goes from one employer to another. I think this could be of benefit to both the employee and the employers concerned irrespective of whether they were associated companies or not. This is not exactly what Deputy Mullen and Deputy Booth asked for but it meets the general point of what they sought.

The important thing in an amendment of this kind is that the employee's interest should be fully protected and, as I explained to Deputy Mullen at the time, whatever we do should not diminish the workers' right to redundancy payment. If the Deputy remembers, it seemed to appear at the time that if you made the arrangement that he could be sent to another company he would have to lose his rights to redundancy payment by the company letting him go. I had the question examined to see if the spirit of what Deputy Booth and Deputy Mullen asked for could be met and this amendment is tabled to bring in the result of this deliberation.

The effect of the amendment is that where a worker voluntarily transfers from one employer to another and where both employers concerned agree that his service with the first employer will be regarded as service with the second employer, that is, the new employer, the continuity of his service for the purposes of this Bill will not be broken by the transfer. In the interests of the worker it is being provided that before the transfer the employee must be furnished with a written statement on behalf of both employers which (a) will set out the terms and conditions of the new employment; (b) contains the agreement of the new employer that the worker's service with the first employer will be regarded as service with the new employer and (c) that the notice contains particulars of the worker's service with the first employer. As an additional safeguard for the employee, it is also being provided that the terms and conditions set out in the statement must be accepted in writing by the worker concerned.

The worker need not accept, of course, and when it comes to the time when he would be leaving the first employer, if he so desires he can claim whatever redundancy payment he would be entitled to. If he does that, he can take employment with the next employer and start anew from that point. But, if he opts to go from one employment to another and carry his service with him and both employers agree then he cannot get redundancy payment but the decision is made by the worker himself.

The essential difference between the proposal and the provisions relating to associated companies is, as I have said, that the employee in this case has the option of refusing to accept re-engagement and to retain his right to whatever redundancy payment might be due to him from the first employer, while under section 16, as the House knows, if he refused an offer of re-employment he would lose redundancy payment.

I think the Minister has tried to go a long way to meet the points raised in this House in relation to this matter but I do not know how it would cover the particular problem of those engaged in the construction industry because one of the problems there would be the question of being able to get agreement between the preceding and the succeeding employers. The Minister's amendment provides that the employee would have to get documentary evidence of the problems in this industry is the lack of continuity of work.

This is a separate matter. This is something raised by Deputy Mullen and Deputy Booth about associated companies. The background to this is that an employee who is coming to face redundancy in a company may be offered employment in an associated company and the definition of associated company may not be broad enough to cover the situation. Deputy Mullen and Deputy Booth say that situations exist where, if we extended the definition of associated company further, there would be more opportunities for employees to get employment in other companies. I felt that what they wanted was to make sure that a man would get an offer of employment as quickly as possible, but to do it in the way I was asked would move us away from the definition of associated companies. What I have produced is a method by which two employers and an employee can so agree that the employee can say, "I do not want redundancy payment if I get employment from another employer and my service is continuous". But, the three, the employee and the two employers concerned must agree to the arrangement.

What Deputy Larkin is referring to now is the question of special schemes but this amendment is not to deal with special types of employment. It is to deal with arrangements where an employee says, "I will give up my right to redundancy payment from the first employer if he gets me a job with the second employer with continuity of service". It is a different situation.

I am quite aware that that is the situation but I am commenting on the fact that in relation to the type of worker that I have referred to and also referred to in the course of the earlier discussions there is the problem that service cannot be built up because the employment is not continuous with a particular employer or, in many cases, even with clearly associated employers. The hope of their coming within the scope of this Bill, having regard to the qualification, is very slight.

This matter was raised on the section dealing with associated companies on the last occasion. What I am suggesting now is to meet something the Deputies wanted. It does not touch on that aspect mentioned by Deputy Larkin.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 9, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"(6) In determining for the purposes of this Act whether at a particular time before the commencement of this Act an employee was dismissed by his employer, the appropriate provisions of this section shall apply as if the matter to be decided occurred after such commencement."

On Committee Stage, I said I would look at amendment No. 66 put down by the Labour Party. At the time I did not know whether it was necessary or not to achieve the intention in it. This amendment of mine arises out of that consideration. Do I need to explain it further?

Personally, I should like to know what exactly it means. I cannot make head or tail of it.

The Labour Party, on the last occasion, sought to provide that continuity of service would not be broken where an employee of a company was taken into the employment of an associated company and also that the period of service with the first company would count as service with the associated company. I think what was in Deputy Cluskey's mind was that before and after the Act there would be different circumstances.

The situation envisaged in the Labour Party amendment is covered by sections 9 and 16 of this Bill. Section 9, subsection (2) provides that an employee shall not be taken to be dismissed by his employer—in other words, continuity is not broken—(a) if the employee's contract of employment is renewed or if he is re-engaged by the same employer under a new contract which does not differ from the previous contract and the renewal or re-engagement takes effect immediately on the ending of his employment under the previous contract, or (b) in any other case the renewal or re-engagement is the result of an offer made in writing by the employer before the ending of his employment under the previous contract, and takes effect either immediately on the ending of that employment or after an interval of not more than four weeks thereafter.

Now section 16, subsection (1) provides:

Where the employer is a company, any reference in this Part to re-engagement by the employer shall be construed as a reference to re-engagement by that company or by an associated company, and any reference in this Part to an offer made by the employer shall be construed as including a reference to an offer made by an associated company.

The effect of these two provisions when taken together is that continuity of service is preserved, when an employee is re-engaged by an associated company as the result of an offer made before the termination of his employment with the first company, provided that the re-employment takes place within four weeks of that termination. The only doubt which arises relates to the question of whether the provisions of section 9 will apply to the renewal or re-engagement that takes place before the Act comes into operation. My amendment resolves any doubts in that connection.

I am afraid I cannot follow the Minister at all. The amendment is:

In page 9, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"(6) In determining for the purposes of this Act whether at a particular time before the commencement of this Act an employee was dismissed by his employer, the appropriate provisions of this section shall apply as if the matter to be decided occurred after such commencement."

I was giving the background.

Perhaps the Minister would let me finish? This whole question deals with the matter of re-employment in the same job.

I told the House during Committee that the section would come into operation when the Act is in force. The Labour Party asked would it work in the same way if it happened before the Act came into force. They had an amendment down to make sure of this. We are covering that now.

The amendment submitted by the Labour Party to which the Minister is referring was amendment No. 66. He is now indicating that this amendment was put in to meet what was advocated in amendment No. 66. That is not so because amendment No. 66 related to his amendment No. 65 on Committee Stage. We accepted the Minister's amendment No. 65 and did not pursue our amendment No. 66. The Minister is now relating this amendment to amendment No. 66. That is causing confusion. As my colleague, Deputy Tully, points out, it refers to a different matter. Perhaps the Minister could give us a more concise explanation of what he is doing in this amendment?

Deputy Cluskey handled this the last night.

Is the Minister concluding?

I am only explaining.

Acting Chairman

This is Report Stage. The point is that a Deputy may speak only once on Report Stage, unlike Committee Stage of a Bill. I am just explaining this so that there will not be any confusion.

We have been attempting by skating closely around Standing Orders to have something decided quickly rather than having everyone getting up in turn. I ask the indulgence of the Chair to allow this to continue. Otherwise, we will be here all night and for many nights.

Acting Chairman

The Minister.

I have the Labour Party amendment here. I may have confused the House by my explanation of the sections involved. The essential problem was recognised quickly on the last occasion, that is, whether the provision of the section would apply to events that happened before the commencement of the Act. What I am doing in this amendment is what the Labour Party asked me to do. The last night I felt it would not be necessary but I undertook to examine it to see if it would be necessary. The reason for the lengthy evaluation was that the amendment will change the wording of a section other than section 16 and produce the same result as the Labour Party amendment.

May I ask the Minister if the special circumstances which I outlined to him on the last occasion are covered by his amendment, in respect of a number of workers who took unofficial action and whose employer insisted that unless they resumed work by a certain date, they would, to all intents and purposes, have to re-apply for their jobs, re-enlist in the firm, that their services would be reckoned as and from that date, and that their previous service with the same firm would be set aside altogether?

I got the Deputy's letter yesterday but I did not have time to deal with it by today. It will be possible to deal with it in the Seanad.

Is the Minister satisfied that the amendment he has brought forward at this stage does not cover them?

The evidence which the Deputy mentioned came to me yesterday and I am having the legal implications examined. I did not have time to have it with me today.

The Minister will try to take care of it?

I intend to handle it. It does not arise on this.

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 12.

We were seeking to put down——

Acting Chairman

I called amendment No. 12 but I am informed that it is out of order.

That is right. I want to make the point that we feel it is a pity this could not be included in the Act because we feel it would strengthen the Act. All the Labour Party amendments have been designed to strengthen the Act and make it a better piece of legislation. We regret that the Chair has ruled that these people cannot qualify in a two-year period. That is regettable.

Amendment No. 12 not moved.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 20, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

"provided, however, that where an employer is insolvent, the Minister shall be entitled to claim in the bankruptcy, arrangement, administration of the insolvent estate or winding up (as the case may be) in respect of, and only in respect of, a sum (if any) equal to the amount of the payment made by the Minister under this section less the amount of the rebate that would have been payable to the employer from the Redundancy Fund under section 29 if the employer had paid the lump sum to the employee."

When we were considering section 32 in Committee, I told the House that I understood from the Official Assignee that subsection (3) of the section might be defective and that I was having the matter examined further. The subsection provides that, where a lump sum payment is made to a worker out of the Redundancy Fund because of the failure of his employer to make the payment, the Minister will have the right to take any necessary action to recover from that employer the appropriate amount.

With relation to bankrupt employers, the intention is that in claiming against the estate of a bankrupt employer the claim will be limited to the net amount due from the employer instead of the full lump sum payment—that is, the amount of the lump sum payment, less the amount of rebate he might receive if he had made the payment. I have been advised that, in order to proceed in this way, the intention would need to be made clear in the subsection and the amendment is designed to achieve this.

This is a welcome move, but does it not highlight the necessity for taking steps, if not in this measure, then in some other measure, to ensure that in the case of bankruptcy, the worker will be protected? Provision will have to be made to ensure that his payment in lieu of notice plus any other moneys which may be due to him will have first call in any proceedings.

That would not be relevant to this legislation.

I merely make the point. Will the Minister bear in mind the necessity for protecting the workers in the case of bankruptcy? Even if that is not within his competence in this measure, it is nevertheless something to which he should attend.

I appreciate the Deputy's point. As far as this Bill is concerned, the worker is protected. The point raised by the Deputy would be for separate consideration. I shall bear it in mind.

It is a very important matter for some workers.

Other points have been raised in this debate which will be proper for other legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 23, to delete lines 20 to 22 and substitute:

"(a) as to one half of those members, on the nomination of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions".

We suggested on Committee Stage that the nominating bodies on the employees' side should be the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The Minister explained that that was the usual procedure. However, we are anxious that it should be made quite clear and we believe that this amendment would strengthen the Bill.

In the previous discussion I told the House it would be my intention to seek nominations from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, but I do not think I should like to introduce it in quite this way into the Bill. I will be prepared to say: "As to one half of those members, being persons nominated for that purpose by an organisation representative of trade unions of workers." That would bring it into line with the Industrial Training Act.

We appreciate the Minister's good intentions. We know, however, that there is a tendency for some groups to describe themselves as trade union organisations. It is not very difficult to get a licence and it is not very difficult for house unions to come into existence. It could happen that a number of house unions would get together and describe themselves as an organisation representing trade unions. Apart from the Minister's goodwill, it is imperative to ensure that the nominations will be from reputable representatives of the workers, and that is the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The implication is the Deputy's.

The implication is not mine at all because I am mindful of the fact that some of the Minister's colleagues favour the formation of house unions.

My practice has been, and will continue to be, to accept nominations from the Congress of Trade Unions. The wording I have here—the House will have to agree to it now as an amendment—is "an organisation representative of trade unions of workers."

An organisation, not organisations.

"As to one half of those members, being persons nominated for that purpose by an organisation representative of trade union workers."

So long as it is not a French organisation, or a German organisation, or anything like that.

I do not think any organisation would suddenly spring up like that. By leave of the House, I will change the wording if the Labour Party withdraw their amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move the altered amendment:

as to one half of those members being persons nominated for that purpose by an organisation representative of trade unions of workers.

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.
Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 15.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 30, to delete lines 1 to 9, and substitute the following:

"(2) There shall be paid to the Minister for Finance out of the Redundancy Fund, at such times and in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct, such sums as the Minister may estimate, on such basis as may be agreed upon between him and the Minister for Finance, to be part of the said expenses of the Minister or any other Minister in carrying into effect section 39, and any sums so paid shall be appropriated in aid of moneys provided by the Oireachtas for carrying this Act into effect."

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment reported and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 30, line 17, after "for the" to insert "keeping of records and the".

Here, we ask that, as well as furnishing information, the employers will also keep permanent records. If that is done, we should be able to build up a body of information on the working of the Bill and make available statistical information that might be valuable in the future.

Section 17, unless it specifically states that records must be kept, will be of very little use and we are therefore asking that employers should be required to keep records.

I have not decided what the final form of the regulations to be made under section 57 will be. I would be prepared to accept this amendment on the understanding that it does not commit me to anything specific in relation to the regulations I may make under section 57. It may be felt desirable to include provisions regarding the keeping of records by employers but a final decision on what regulations will be made has not yet been taken. When regulations have been prepared, I would accept the amendment on condition that it does not commit me at this stage regarding what precisely should go with the regulations.

The problem here is that the section provides that the employer may be required to furnish information. We feel in relation to the records of workers for the purpose of this Bill that it is completely unrealistic to say that the employer is required to furnish information if the employers do not know in advance that they will be required under the Bill to keep records so as to have the information available, as and when required.

I will accept it. The wording ahead of it in the Bill "The Minister may..." gives me enough freedom. I will accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 30, to delete lines 49 to 51 and substitute the following:

"4. A weekly payment shall not be paid to a person entitled thereto until the expiration of the period of two weeks beginning on the date of the termination of his employment and shall not be paid in respect of that two-week period."

We agreed on this on Committee Stage. An amendment was proposed by the Labour Party to reduce from four weeks to one week the waiting period for the commencement of the weekly payments. I said at the time that I was unable to come down to a week but I accepted a two-week period and I think the House agreed. This amendment has met the undertaking I gave at that time. I have added to the paragraph certain words which I think are desirable to make clear what the intention is.

We recognise that on Committee Stage the Minister met quite a number of points raised by Labour Deputies. The Labour Party had an amendment before the House on Committee Stage seeking payment after one week. The Minister indicated that he would go some way to meet the amendment and the suggestion that he was prepared to bring in an amendment for payment after two weeks was accepted by the representatives of the Labour Party. Consequently we accept the Minister's amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 31, line 7, after "continuous employment", to insert "after he has attained the age of sixteen years".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 31, lines 22 and 28, to delete "four-week period" and substitute "two-week period".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20.

In page 35, line 10, to delete "not".

We are getting very confused in this. The original amendments I had on Committee Stage were to meet a situation which might arise but which I would expect to arise very rarely. In explaining the particular paragraphs I thought they were confusing and undertook to try to have an amendment to simplify them. To explain it properly, I will have to give the background to the sections involved. Section 10 of the Bill deals with the position of an employee who is under notice of dismissal and for some reason wants to anticipate the date of expiry of the dismissal notice. If an employee knew he was becoming redundant and wished to get other employment which was offering earlier and wanted to leave the employment before the notice of the employer expired, then he would tell the employer that he himself was giving notice of an earlier expiry time and in that way he would preserve his right to a redundancy payment, unless the employer gave a counter-notice telling him that he required his services to the last day of the notice the employer had given. If, in spite of that counter-notice, the employee did not fulfil the full term of notice given to him by his employer, his right to a redundancy payment would be in question, that is, if the employer were acting reasonably.

That is all here. What was not here was the position which would arise if an employee died before the employer had given the counter-notice or if the employer had given the counter-notice but the employee died before the date of expiry of his own notice. In those circumstances, it would be doubtful if the next-of-kin could claim redundancy payment. Deputies, as far as they could see the situation arising, felt that this might be unfair in relation to an employee's estate. The amendments I now propose will have the effect of stating the position positively in favour of the employee or his next-of-kin by treating the employee as if he had complied with the requirements to get his redundancy payments; in other words had complied with the employer's counter-notice.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 35, line 16, to delete "but did not comply" and substitute "and had complied".

Amendment agree to.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 36, line 11, to delete "one half of".

We are sorry to have a difference on this point. The Minister will recall that we considered the lump sum to be inadequate. We proposed in our amendments to increase the amount of the lump sum to people as they went on in life and we tried to bring the lump sum payment to a more realistic figure for Irish conditions. I suggested that people disemployed in Ireland might be longer looking for alternative work than in other countries and that the amount of the lump sum would need to be geared to this situation. We suggested that the amount of the lump sum should be equivalent to the aggregate: we suggested deleting "one half of". The Minister said that it should be only a half week's pay; we suggested one week's pay and our second amendment suggested that it should be increased to one and a half after he had attained the age of 41 years. Both of these suggestions we thought went a long way to strengthen and improve this Bill.

We think our amendments would make this Bill a more effective piece of legislation which should be the aim of every political Party in this House. The aim of the Labour Party is to strengthen and improve this Bill and it is in that spirit that we suggest these matters on the financial side of the Bill. We do not think that the financial figures laid down here are excessive. We suggest that the minor improvements we suggest would make all the difference in giving the worker some financial protection at a period when he is out of work.

We have been accused on this suggestion and on others of confusing this Bill with a social security measure and we have said repeatedly that in this country a redundancy payments Bill, in some respects, because of the inadequacy of our social security system, must take on some aspect of what might come under social security in another country. We do not suggest that the figures here are in any way excessive but we suggest in our country they are very necessary and we ask the Minister to consider this matter very closely. This amendment proposed by us is another effort to improve this particular Bill. We feel it is necessary and we hope the Minister can see his way to accepting the amendment.

I could not accept these amendments. These amendments would make for very substantial increases in the lump sums payable under the Bill. As I tried to explain before, the principal difference between the scheme we have in this Bill and that in Britain is that in Britain there are no weekly payments. We have a scheme with lump sums and weekly payments. I consider this is a better scheme than if the total amount of benefit were paid in a lump sum. I believe if we try to make the lump sums as big as elsewhere and at the same time give weekly payments we are putting too great a burden on industry, because the contribution would certainly have to be higher.

I have already told the House that we have made estimates of what we are likely to get from the contributions. They will be about £1 million a year. We have also made estimates of what the likely outgoings will be and this is the basis of the figures we have arrived at. I have already made concessions in relation to the age and in relation to certain classes of workers who work for 21 hours a week. I said I would make a change—I have an amendment down to this effect—to allow the maximum lump sum to be the equivalent of 20 weeks pay rather than 16 weeks pay. All those concessions will cause additional outgoings and may mean that I will have to come back to ask for higher contributions. Any such increase would have to be approved by the Dáil. I have been so concerned about the possible effects on the Redundancy Fund that in an earlier amendment, which we did not discuss, I have provided that the expenses of the administration of this Act will be carried by the Exchequer. My intention here is to try and avoid having to increase the contributions. The Exchequer will now carry the expenses of administration except those relating to the appeals machinery which I think should be carried by the Fund. I do not think I can go beyond that.

I want to put this to the Minister, as I stressed on Committee Stage, that if the economy of this country were being managed properly the need for this Redundancy Bill might not be there at all, but because it has not been managed properly, the Minister has been faced with the late necessity of bringing this Bill into the House. The people who would be affected by this, and in respect of whom we are concerned, would be people in many cases where adaptation procedures have been introduced and where considerable amounts of public money will have gone to aid the employer to improve or instal new equipment. The very fact of operating this means that workers in such establishments may well find themselves redundant.

We said on Committee Stage that we could give many instances of cases in which, where new techniques and new equipment have been installed, redundancy has occurred in such industries and employment. We indicated that this measure of a lump sum compensation for workers so made redundant or made redundant because of inefficient management and the failure of management over the years to develop their organisations should be such as to compensate them fully for what they have lost. We indicated that in relation to this lump sum compensation, the basis of half a week for each year of service up to 41 years service and a single week for service of 41 years was, in our view, inadequate. This is not just our view because we believe we are expressing here the feelings of workers who would be affected.

Take the situation of a worker of 55 years of age with 20 years service who may be affected. What would that man have? The most he would have would be compensation for about 15 years. The Minister went a bit further in relation to the maximum period and in many other sections of the Bill, we can see that he has been quite reasonable with regard to the points of view expressed by the House. This is one of the vital issues, the issue of what is going to happen to the worker who becomes redundant and who will need the compensation, aside from the weekly payments, and consequently we press on the Minister to accept our two amendments, Nos. 22 and 24.

I want to join with my colleague, Deputy Larkin, in advocating that the Minister should change his mind in regard to this particular matter. The point that has to be borne in mind in particular is that people regard a lump sum payment as something very substantial. The Minister has already used the word "substantial". I submit that in circumstances of this kind, where the maximum lump payment is bound to be 20 weeks half pay, it cannot be regarded as a handsome sum and is not a very great compensation for the person concerned after all his years of service.

There is another very good reason why the Minister can afford to meet this proposition of ours and it has regard to what he himself has said. He has said that there will be quite a considerable number of people excluded from this Bill. He has admitted that there will be a number of people paying in accordance with the provisions of this Bill who will never get anything out of it. If we are to have regard in a serious way to the Minister's anticipation of the future and the expectations in regard to redundancy, the amount of money so paid out will not be so big because the Minister is fairly confident of the future in regard to industry. That being so, I think this highlights the absence of a rush on the Fund, if what the Minister says is correct.

Furthermore, it is unreasonable of the Minister to make comparison with the situation which exists in Great Britain. Once we think in terms of lump sum payments, we also have to have regard to the reliefs that are afforded to the people concerned. They do not exist here and there is no indication of their coming into existence for the people of this country. I would entreat the Minister to have another look at this matter. If he were to accept what we are advocating in our amendment, it would not have a serious effect on the Fund. As I have already said, there will be a considerable number of people contributing to this Fund who cannot benefit from it because they will be excluded from its provisions. We realise that this Bill will be regarded by a great many workers as locking the stable door when the horse has gone, because a number of workers who should be included will not be included, even those who have been declared redundant in the past few weeks. This Bill is leaving us in the position of saying that this is the end of it, that there will not be a dearth of industry. Let us be realistic and face the facts.

I have given my reasons and I think the House must appreciate that we can only work on the best calculations possible which are available to us now. If experience shows that we can afford better payments I will ask the House for its agreement to improvements at the appropriate time.

The figure we are looking for is not excessive. We have pointed out that the lump sum for the people involved, who are out of work, cannot exceed a certain figure and we do not consider it excessive. You have made calculations and are you suggesting that on your budget you cannot give it?

We do not know with certainty now how much redundancy will occur. We do not know the age groups of those who will become redundant. If they belong to a particular age group, there will be greater amounts involved than if the workers concerned were younger people. The age, experience and so on of people made redundant will determine the level of redundancy payments. The provisions of the Bill related to the income of the Fund and no matter how well-wishing you are, you have to relate what you do to what you can afford to do. This is not a case of Santa Claus handing out.

Will the Minister succumb to eloquence in the next hour or two?

No politicians would hesitate to give out gifts. We want a scheme than can be carried by Irish industry, to protect Irish workers. If experience shows that the calculations are wrong I will come back to the House. I have to start the scheme with the best calculation I can make in advance.

The Minister must have paid a lot of redundancy.

There are a number of imponderables. Let us have the Bill on the best calculations we can make now, and if we find we can do better, we can discuss it again.

Would the Minister accept in good faith that the Labour Party have done their calculations, and we feel this is necessary? We ask you in all earnestness to accept our amendment. Will the Minister accept it?

Acting Chairman

Is the Deputy withdrawing the amendment?

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 58; Níl, 12.

  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Blaney, Neil T.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Boylan, Terence.
  • Brady, Philip.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Burke, Patrick J.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Colley, George.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Davern, Don.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fahey, John.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Dublin South-Central).
  • Flanagan, Séan.
  • Foley, Desmond.
  • Gallagher, James.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, James M.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, James J.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Patrick.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Mooney, Patrick.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Nolan, Thomas.
  • Ó Ceallaigh, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Donogh.
  • Smith, Patrick.


  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Coughlan, Stephen.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dunne, Seán.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • Mullen, Michael.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Treacy, Seán.
  • Tully, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Carty and Geoghegan; Níl, Deputies M. O'Leary and Cluskey.
Question declared carried.

Amendment No. 23 is consequential on amendment No. 6.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 36, line 15, to delete "eighteen years" and substitute "sixteen years".

Amendment agreed to.

Acting Chairman

Amendment No. 24 has been discussed with amendment No. 22.

Amendment No. 24 not moved.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 36, lines 23 and 24, to delete "sixteen weeks' " and substitute "twenty weeks' ".

I mentioned this when speaking on the other amendment. I propose to raise the maximum amount of a lump sum payable from equal to 16 weeks pay to 20 weeks pay.

I am thankful to the Minister.

The Deputy is welcome.

Deputy Dowling never thought of it until we suggested it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 37, to delete lines 1 to 8, and substitute the following:

"5. Where an employee's period of service had been interrupted by any one of the following—

(a) a period of not more than 52 consecutive weeks by reason of sickness,

(b) a period of not more than 26 consecutive weeks by reason of—

(i) lay-off,

(ii) holidays,

(iii) service by the employee in the Defence Forces of the State,

(iv) any cause (other than the voluntary leaving of his employment by the employee) not mentioned in clause (i) to (iii) but authorised by the employer,

continuity of employment shall not be broken by such interruption even though notice of termination of the contract of employment has been given.".

Deputy Jones raised the matter of the length of time a man might be sick without breaking continuity of service, where he had been dismissed but had been taken back into his employment. The Deputy thought six months, which was the time mentioned, too short. I have arranged that the period of 26 weeks shall be altered to 52 consecutive weeks in the case of illness. The periods in relation to lay-off, holidays, service by the employee in the Defence Forces of the State or any other cause not mentioned in clauses (i) and (ii) of the paragraph in question but authorised by the employer, will not break continuity of employment, which, even though notice of termination of the contract of employment has been given, will remain at 26 weeks. I should like to explain that even if a man had been sick for three years, and his employer wishes to overlook that, it will not break his continuity of employment. However, if a man is sick for over 12 months then, under this new amendment, the employer could terminate the employment and continuity would be broken.

I am grateful to the Minister.

I want to put it to the Minister that the 26 consecutive weeks by reason of lay-off is still very inadequate and that there is a very compelling case to be made that it should be at least 52 weeks. The Minister will surely have taken into account that there is quite a lot of seasonal employment in this country and that it is not unusual for workers to be laid off for some months of the year. We know of instances where the period has amounted to some six months, or even more, so that the Minister is placing in a very precarious position those thousands of casual workers in industry, on the bogs, on the roads, in the building industry and the like, by confining them to a 26-week period for reckonable service. In all the circumstances, I would ask the Minister to have a second look at that stipulation in respect of lay-offs. I feel that 26 weeks is dangerously low in respect of the very many categories of workers whom we know to have no security of tenure in respect of employment and who are used to being laid off from time to time.

There is, too, a real danger that, where the employment is checkered, haphazard or casual, the employers may avail of this clause to set their workers outside the Redundancy Payments Bill, when enacted—disfranchise them, disqualify them, so to speak, of set and deliberate purpose by laying them off for more than 26 weeks. This is a real possibility in certain industries, in certain spheres of employment: I do not wish to name them here. It is wide open to an employer to exonerate himself from the obligations contained in this measure merely by keeping them out of work for more than six months, thereby disqualifying them from benefit and exonerating himself in respect of any payments under the scheme.

I think the Minister, in introducing the amendment, has improved the section considerably because, as previously drafted, it provided for a maximum of only 26 weeks. I wonder if the Minister has gone far enough. He refers to 52 weeks illness. This section is dealing with continuous employment for the purpose of the Bill, not reckonable service. Take a person who may have to spend a period in hospital. We know that TB is pretty well in hand at the present moment. Its incidence is not nearly as high as it was. Nevertheless, it occurs. It is to be found in the middle-age group at this stage much more than it is to be found in the young. It is quite a common fact that people have to receive hospital treatment—perhaps nine months, 12 months or 15 months in hospital—and may then have to attend clinics before they are fit to resume work. A person may have been working for ten years or so and contracts TB or is a victim to any long period of illness. Such person will lose, for the purpose of the Bill, continuity of employment. I do not think the Minister would intend to deprive people who are unfortunate enough to be struck down with a serious illness from getting the benefit, on return to work, of previous service for the purpose of this measure. The same thing may come under another heading. Lay-off has been dealt with by Deputy Treacy, and quite properly so. There are a number of employments with what might be termed temporary workers who, over a number of years, work for four or five months in the year for the same employer and automatically go back to work with the same employer. Yet, under this, they would never qualify for any recognition and would never qualify over the years for any protection under this Bill.

While agreeing that the Minister's amendment does improve the Bill, I would ask him whether he would not look at this question again from the point of view of long-term sickness. I do not think there is a Member of this House, least of all the Minister, who would, on reflection, suggest that a person who is in employment for ten or 15 years and contracts TB or is seriously ill, or for any other such cause, and is out of work for a period of 52 weeks, should on return to work, lose all the benefits of his or her employment from the point of view of redundancy payments.

This section is not dealing with reckonable service, I understand. It is dealing with the question of continuity. I would ask the Minister to look at the question of sickness from the point of view of continuity of employment for reckonable service. Many good employers are prepared to accept it but, of course, there are a lot of bad ones. Many good employers are prepared to accept that if a person is out 12 months, 18 months or two years with a serious disease such as I have mentioned and is restored to his or her ordinary employment——

There is nothing in this Bill to stop them.

But, if they are out over 12 months, they will lose, for the purposes of the Bill——

It is very difficult to explain this but I shall try to do so. If a man is sick for three weeks now and three weeks again and the employer dismisses him, he is gone anyway. The purpose of paragraph 5 in Schedule 3 is that if a man is sick, or has other reasons for being away from his place of business, an employer cannot dismiss him and later re-employ him and call that a break in continuity. To protect the worker from this being done, that is, the breaking of his continuity of service by his employer, he will have to be absent for at least 12 months before this device can be used by an employer. An employer could have a worker out for three years and take him back and that would count as service as long as the employer does not dismiss him. I think we dealt with Deputy Treacy's point about seasonal workers under section 8. We have made conditions which would discount the annual average period in which he would not be working anyway. I will have a look at that to see how it affects the protection of the workers in regard to the payment of the redundancy lump sum and, if necessary, I will make changes, but I think we have dealt with it.

We welcome this period of 52 weeks but could the Minister explain to me how this would operate, having regard to a situation I will describe? If a person goes on holidays and just at the end of the holidays, becomes ill and his illness lasts for 52 weeks, is the holiday period taken into consideration in reckoning the 52 weeks?

It does happen in certain employments with which I am familiar that a person, a teacher, say, who was ill at the beginning of a long holiday has the whole period treated as a period of illness. I do not think it would be so treated here. The period of illness would not be calculated in the period of holidays. The holidays would be separate and would not come within the 26 weeks period of authorised absence mentioned in the paragraph.

As we are dealing with continuity of employment, am I to take it that if a man goes on holidays and becomes sick at the end of the holidays, he starts to punch in his 52 weeks from the time he goes sick?

That would be my interpretation.

I do not know how many workers would have 26 weeks holidays. I should like the Minister——

Is it confined to holidays with pay?

No, any authorised absence. Subparagraph (4) says "any cause (other than the voluntary leaving of an employment by the employee) not mentioned in clause (iii)." Clauses (i) to (iii) cover lay-off, holidays and service by the employee in the Defence Forces.

You go on then and refer to any cause other than the voluntary leaving of his employment not mentioned in the other clauses.

Any cause authorised by the employer.

An employer could send a worker away on a course and could fall out with the employee towards the end of the course. The worker could be obliged to go on a course for 12 months and then in regard to his continuity of employment——

I do not think I could visualise a case where a worker is sent by his employer on a course and then being regarded by the employer as absenting himself from employment.

We want to be very clear about this because we have to look after the workers.

He is in the employment of the employer. What is visualised is a situation wherein the services of the employee are not available to the employer by the worker being on service with the Defence Forces or through illness or lay-off. If an employer has an employee on a training course which is designed to improve his usefulness, he is still in that employment.

Would the Minister explain what are the circumstances that would apply to the latter portion of this change. Would he give us a case in point?

There are circumstances in which an employee might be away with Defence Forces or might be sick. If he is away for a period in such circumstances, the employer is deprived of his services for that period and he might use this as an excuse to dismiss the worker and re-employ him when he was again available. Having done that, having dismissed him and re-employed him, the date of the re-employment would start a new period in which that man would build up again rights to redundancy payment. To protect the employee from this, we are introducing these limitations on the employer so that he cannot use sickness, except for a period of 12 months or anything over 12 months, to dismiss a man and re-employ him and so break continuity. The employer can dismiss a worker at any time for inefficiency, for illness or a bad health record, but where an employer dismisses and re-employs we are protecting workers so that they will be at least 12 months sick before such dismissal and re-employment would break continuity. We have tried to cover all eventualities by having a final clause in case something is overlooked. It is just a way of protecting the worker against this device of being dismissed and re-employed to break continuity during a period when his services are not available to his employer. I think all possible uses of that device are covered by the provision as amended.

What is the purpose of the final provision?

The reason is that, first of all, I named the things that came to mind. I mentioned all the things that could possibly happen and then I said if I had left anything out, I would cover it by a general clause. Some circumstances might turn up and then the last clause will cover those. Say a person was in the United Nations for a time——


He might be lent to the United Nations.

Deputy Moore. Deputies should remember that this is Report Stage.

We are very disorderly.

This is a very important Bill because it is a new charter for workers. Many of us know that an unscrupulous employer would often sack a man if he was out sick for a month, but in this Bill he is given a year.

He is not.

Yes, that is the limit.

For sickness.

Would the Minister explain this Bill to one of his Deputies?

This particular section is very difficult to grasp because it is trying to meet a situation where——


Acting Chairman

Deputy Moore must be allowed to speak.

Would anyone listen to poor Deputy Moore?

I welcome the amendment because it removes something about which we were not quite sure before. Workers will welcome this very much as being some guarantee against being treated as they have been in the past.

I have had to make this comment in this House more than once: Who are these voracious, bloodthirsty, unscrupulous, persecuting employers?

Man's inhumanity to man.

I have been 40 years an employer. I have had a good deal to do with trade unionists and employers. There may be a few monsters circulating——

A lot of them.

Where? There has been a lot of general talk of this kind. I have been a Deputy for 35 years and in all that time I have never been approached by any of these monsters.

Some of them are members of this House.

There is a provision here that, if such a monster exists, he cannot unjustly treat his employees absent from work because of sickness in a period of not more than 52 consecutive weeks or for other specified causes in a period of not more than 26 consecutive weeks. That seems to me to make provision against the existence of these monsters, if they exist. I beg seriously to doubt that any substantial number of persons of this character do exist. It is a pity, for the sake of human relations between us all, that we should have this kind of perennial implication that there are ravening wolves moving around in any number amongst us who are capable of treating their men in this way.

If there were not, we would not need this amendment.

The Minister has put something into this Bill to provide against this contingency. I would like to be clear on this. A man falls sick and has a chronic illness of the kind Deputy Larkin referred to, such as tuberculosis or leukaemia. It may take a long time to restore his health. Am I correct in believing that man preserves his service for the purpose of redundancy compensation for so long a period as he is entitled to receive sickness benefit under what we used to call the national health insurance system?

If he is absent for 12 months, he loses all.

He does not lose anything at the end of 52 weeks except a guarantee that the employer will not walk into his room and say: "You are sacked."

I have known them to send their cards to the hospital.

That may be.

It is difficult to explain it. The drafting was difficult but I am assured by the draftsman that it now meets the intention. An employer could come into the hospital to anybody and say after three weeks "You are sacked". He might wait six months or two years. Most employers would probably not do that at all. What this draft is calculated to catch is the use of the sacking and re-employment device. It cannot be used in these circumstances except after 12 months have elapsed in the case of illness and six months in the other cases. But at any time an employer can dismiss a person. What is being covered here is the case where an employer dismisses a worker, takes him back and then says: "You have broken your continuity." Redundancy payments are related to continuity of service and not weekly contributions.

I think I follow that. What I am anxious to clarify is that we are ensuring that an employee will not lose his redundancy rights under this legislation, unless his employment has been legitimately interrupted by valid dismissal, and that we are seeking to attach to the word "valid" a moral as well as a legal form, that an employer will not have a right for the first 52 weeks to terminate his employment and disrupt his redundancy rights.

It is not even that. It is the right to terminate his employment, re-employ him and call it a break in service.

Why should any employer want to do that?

The amount of the lump sum is related to the service.

I am bound to say, with reluctance, that I think this provision in draft here is as comprehensive as the Minister can make it. If there are these rapacious cut-throats that Deputy Moore and members of the Labour Party speak of, I think the form we have here is as effective as it is possible to provide. I should like to find fault with the Minister — it is my business as a member of the Opposition — but it lends more verisimilitude to our debate if, when he tries to do his best to meet a legitimate point, we say that on the whole he has done as well as any man can reasonably be expected to do, particularly in view of the fact that if this Schedule proves in practice not to be adequate to achieve our purpose, I am quite prepared to come back if cases emerge that men have been unjustly treated. I am often astonished that more people here do not inveigh against the fact that when a man is sick for a certain period, he ceases to become eligible for sickness benefit. I admit that is another day's work.

We are forbidden to talk on that.

I am just gingering you up.

That there are such employers here was proved by the 1936 Act and the granting of holidays. Within a few months hundreds of employers took advantage of that Act to deprive people of their holidays on technicalities and the Act had to be amended. In this case those employers who wish to deprive people who have been ill a long time and save themselves the contributions and lump sum payments can after 12 months technically dismiss somebody, bring him back and then say he does not qualify for the lump sum. Subsequent amendment of the Act will be of little use. The Minister said he was opposed to retrospection.

What would the Deputy suggest? He criticised what I did the last time and I doubled the period.

It should be longer than 12 months.

The Deputy leaves me completely in the dark.

Make it two years.

If I could find an average. I will have a look at it.

We are not quarrelling with the Minister.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 37, to delete lines 51 to 54.

Amendments Nos. 27 and 28 may be taken together.

The section says:

Absence from work by reason of a strike in the business or industry in which the employee concerned is employed and which occurred after the commencement of this Act shall not be allowable as reckonable service.

On Committee Stage, we suggested that this section be dropped. One of the difficulties in this matter is that of determining legally what a strike is and of deciding who will keep the records of unofficial stoppages, which may last for a day or three days, or of a strike which may last a week. What kind of legal battles will there be in a case like this, where the employer declares that the people have been on strike and, on the other hand, it is arguable that it is a lock-out? On Committee Stage, we indicated that the interruption of work by strikes was very small in the overwhelming majority of cases compared with the loss of man-days through illness and other causes, compared to the man-days lost through lay-offs, dislocation of industry and other occurrences outside the control of the people in industry. As I have said, a stoppage may involve only a half day, two days or a week. While we are particularly concerned, and expressed our concern under another section, that employers should keep proper records, we consider that the attempt to keep records under this heading for the purpose of depriving the workers of reckonable service will only create confusion. Therefore, we would ask the Minister to look at this again and to accept our amendment.

I want to support this amendment. As I indicated on Committee Stage, if the Minister does not accept this amendment and persists in doing what he has set out to do, he will take the good out of this whole Bill, because it will be regarded as a penalty to be imposed on people who go on strike. Strikes occur for a host of reasons. Strikes are not always created by the workers' side, and it is wrong to have this provision when one takes into consideration that in the preceding paragraph, the Minister, for the purpose of determining reckonable service, is disposed towards not regarding strikes which have occurred before this Bill becomes law as being an interruption of service. Surely he can follow through with this idea, particularly in view of the fact that we have not got a history of strikes of long duration?

I wonder at the purpose of putting this in. It savours of the big stick, and it belies the attitude the Minister has been adopting all along the line in relation to this Bill. I have said before that I do not think this idea was thought up by the Minister himself, and I would urge him to reconsider the matter. If it is to be laid down that anybody who indulges in a strike or finds himself involved in a strike will have that set against him for the purpose of reckoning his service, it will have a wrong effect on such a person. It does not amount to much by way of punishment, because the period of a strike can be very short. In most cases, fortunately, in our history of strikes, they have been reasonably short. However, it can be regarded as the wielding of the big stick against people who have to take strike action, and there is no need for this section.

During Committee Stage, the Minister, in defence of this provision, said he came to the conclusion, as a result of consultations he had with both sides on this matter, that they wanted it. I submitted then that I thought this did not emanate from the workers' representatives. I have since checked and I have been assured that it did not and would not. I am also satisfied that well-meaning and organised employers would not advocate this. We know from our experience that when a strike is over, a settlement having been made, both sides hope to go back and work together in a proper atmosphere. Let us go along with that, and when both sides to a dispute have come to an agreement, let there not be hanging over the workers' heads this section in the Redundancy Payments Bill, where it is said that despite the fact that a dispute has been settled, this is going to be set against the worker when it comes to reckoning his service.

This does not happen in other cases where people, having been on strike, seek to obtain benefits from their employers. A worker who goes on strike now and who is in receipt of service pay, does not have his service pay interfered with because he has been on strike. I suggest that if this sort of thing is pressed, it will encourage the bringing about of that situation. Furthermore, if a strike lasts a long time, employers do not generally use this period in assessing holiday entitlement. Of course, the law in relation to holidays indicates clearly and distinctly that unless the period of absence from work is of an unreasonable duration, such absence will not be held against a worker in the event of claiming holiday pay. As I have said before, this provision interferes with people's liberty.

I would ask the Minister to reconsider the stand he has taken on this matter. Apart from any question of principle, this might lead to a considerable amount of dispute in future. The question of whether a strike is a strike or a lock-out is very often a question of which particular side you happen to be on, and there have been innumerable disputes where one side has claimed that it was a strike and the other side has claimed it was a lock-out.

Also, we mentioned in connection with the previous section the fact that there are good employers and bad employers, and the Minister saw fit to introduce certain regulations that would ensure that the least decent employer would, at least, meet certain standards in relation to implementing the Bill. Surely the Minister must realise that the number of days lost through either strike or lock-out over a period of twenty or thirty years will be very little? The good employer would normally tend to disregard the small amount of time that would be accumulated due to strike or lock-out, but you will find that the bad employer may come to a man and say that fifteen years ago he was out on strike for three days, that ten years ago there was a stoppage which lasted for a day, and this type of argument will develop in future if the Minister persists in leaving this in.

The Minister should bear in mind that during negotiations for the settlement of a strike and after a strike one of the major considerations as far as trade unions are concerned is that there should be no victimisation of those who have been on strike and are returning to work. I would suggest that if the Minister thought of this for a moment he would agree that this in fact is a type of victimisation that would have the power of law. The Minister should reconsider his attitude on this matter.

Deputy Jones speaks for the Fine Gael Party and has forgotten more about these problems than I know and has given very close study to the Bill. I should, however, like to comment on this. I see the force of the argument advanced by Deputy Cluskey and Deputy Mullen but I see a great difference between a strike sponsored by a responsible trade union and an unofficial strike.

I agree there.

I would be much more comfortable about this proviso if it were possible for the draftsman to distinguish between a strike sponsored by a responsible trade union and an unofficial strike. I think there is a good deal of force in what the Labour Deputies have said that the Legislature should follow the practice we have always followed down through the years, and that is, that where there is a genuine labour dispute, with a responsible trade union informing the Labour Court that they have reached deadlock with a responsible employer and have done as much as they can to resolve their difficulties, the men are going to exercise their constitutional right as free men to strike.

I should like to avoid if I could injecting into that position the argument on the side of the employer, "Remember boys, if your trade union leaders bring you out on strike it is going to reduce your benefits under the Redundancy Payments Act". I would not be at all sure that there would be objection to the proposal, where you get some irresponsible chap who is kicking up ructions and trying to make himself shop steward or trying to advance himself in the union and is a scourge to responsible trade union officials who are trying to defend their members' interests and at the same time exercise the immense power of a trade union responsibly and resolutely if the trade union officials were in a position to say, "For God's sake go back boys because this kind of wild cat operation will interfere with your rights under the Bill, as well as all the other evils. We will negotiate. Go back to work. We will take up your grievances and we may have to call you out on strike but if we do call you out on strike you may forget about the provisions of the Redundancy Payments Act. They will not operate because this is an official, sponsored strike for which the union will answer and which the union certificate is sufficient to exempt from the consequences that would accrue if it were unofficial."

The time has come, both here and in Great Britain, where it will need passionate devotion to the right of men to belong to their trade unions and the right to use the power to strike through the machinery of the trade union but the time has come when legislatures in every free country are beginning to ask themselves is there no means whereby we can differentiate between that fundamental right of free men to organise in trade unions and to strike as their last sanction in a trade dispute and the kind of goings on which I will not particularise but which is generally described as an unofficial strike which many of us know and which is frequently precipitated for reasons far different from those alleged by the people who promote the strikes, often to the detriment of the trade union rather than the employer.

So, I should like to say to the House that I have not given this matter the very careful consideration that Deputy Jones has but, personally, I would have great sympathy with the view expressed by Deputy Cluskey and Deputy Mullen but if we were going to accept their point of view we ought to try to distinguish between a strike sponsored by a responsible trade union or, indeed, by any recognised trade union and a strike sponsored by nobody, commonly known as an unofficial strike.

I hope I never have to try to persuade my members to go back off a strike because of the fact that if they did not they would lose their claim to redundancy payment because in that case the best advice to give them would be to look for another job. If redundancy payment came into it the job would not be worth staying in.

The arguments made from the benches here that this is something which is rather irksome, which may be used in order to cause trouble in the employment at a later stage has not so very very much in it. The Minister is breaking a nut with a very big mallet because in this case he is saying, in effect, that if people are on strike then those people will lose their right to redundancy pay.

For the period.

For the period during which they are on strike. If the Minister pauses to think for a moment he will realise that very few employers are prepared to consider at all the question that they are going to close down and that is where redundancy pay comes in or a lay off will occur. There is no big principle involved on which the Minister has to stand. Because of the fact that Deputies on these benches said here earlier that this is simply an irksome thing, something which might possibly cause trouble at a later stage of the job, I would ask the Minister to accept the amendment suggested by the Labour Party.

Does the Deputy object on principle to differentiating between a strike and an unofficial strike?

I do not think you should discuss that now.

We are not discussing that but I say there are "unofficial strikes" and "unofficial strikes". I may be different from the general run of trade union officials but when I find an employer dismissing summarily an employee or employees for no reason at all there is only one answer to him and that is the unofficial strike.

The arguments of Deputy Larkin and his colleagues in the Labour benches recalled to my mind certain circumstances in connection with some strikes with which I had rather close connection in my time, and convince me that I should advocate that the Minister should accept the Labour Party amendment. I recall the bank strikes with which I had close connections, on two occasions, I think. I also recall a strike with which I have very little connection, the teachers' strike. I recall another strike with which I had no connection. The issue was raised with the bank clerks, the teachers and the Post Office officials, that if they went on strike, they interfered with their superannuation. That was never allowed in the end to prevent a settlement. It was never allowed in the end as something which had to be taken into account in penalising those who went on strike. It seems to me that the analogy between the teachers, the bank officials and the Post Office workers is clear in this case. I am convinced that the Minister should accept this amendment. It seems to me that this will cause nothing but disruption and trouble between the workers and employers and will effect no useful purpose.

There is one last remark I should like to make. There is a provision in the Bill that absence from work by reason of a lock-out shall be allowable as reckonable service. You cannot reckon service for a strike or a lock-out. Who is to say what is a lock-out and what is a strike? In every strike, the workers say they are locked out and the employers say it is a strike and not a lock-out at all. Who will decide that as an issue of fact? It will be impossible, and this will cause nothing but trouble. The Minister should consider the amendment favourably.

What is in the minds of Deputies is a principle but it is not a principle which applies to the Redundancy Bill. Deputy Tully argued rightly and concluded wrongly. If there were any question of penalising people for striking, the British Labour Government would not have brought this into their legislation.

They are not infallible either.

The basic principle of redundancy legislation is that a man is establishing certain rights in his firm, or industry, or job, because he is being employed in that job and contributing to the welfare of the firm. We do not say that the period of a strike would break continuity of service. There is the principle that if a man is not working for his employer then the period he is away from his employment, if it is not the employer's fault——

Who is to differentiate between that and the superannuation schemes?

The period when the employer is not getting the benefit of the employee's presence and labour, while it does not break his service, should not be reckoned as a period in which the employee is building up that firm. The whole basis of redundancy legislation is the contribution of the employee to the firm. Deputy Tully is right that the periods involved would hardly amount to anything. The 26 week period for benefit is weighted in favour of the employee.

The principle I see in this is that a man is establishing rights in a firm. If he is locked out that is not his fault. Therefore we will penalise the employer and make him pay to the man who was willing to contribute, by his services, but if the employee is away from work and not contributing, then that period should not fall to be reckoned in the aggregate period of service for the calculation of redundancy payment.

I know that the question of whether a strike is a strike or a lock-out can be raised. I imagine that in actual practice the question will not often arise. We have provision for an appeals tribunal machinery if such a question should arise. I feel that at the end of the period of dispute, it would be a problem for the trade unions firmly to establish whether it was a lock-out or a strike. The appeals tribunal would be available to determine such questions.

Does the Minister see any point in an effort to distinguish between an official strike and an unofficial strike?

I would, in other legislation, but that would be introducing a purpose into a Bill which I do not intend to introduce into this Bill, that is, penalising people by withdrawing some benefit.

Does the Minister agree there are such things as justifiable strikes?

But the worker will be penalised.

He will not. If he is on strike, he has withdrawn his labour. Redundancy payments are paid in relation to labour.

He might have no other recourse.

He might be goaded into a strike.

If the Minister agrees there are justifiable strikes——

Would the Deputy agree there are justifiable lock-outs?

I have never seen one: it is possible.

If the House accepts the principle that a man is entitled to redundancy payments because of his contribution to that firm, and that while a strike period should not break continuity of service, he cannot be regarded as contributing to the firm during the period of the strike, that is fair I think.

The Minister has not answered my point about the analogy between superannuation and this kind of contributory service. It is the same.

What has the Deputy in mind in this analogy? In relation to superannuation, the continuity of service would be broken.

Continuity of service was allowed by the banks.

In this Bill continuity of service will not be broken by a strike.

Of course it will.

Continuity of service will not be broken but the period for which he is on strike shall not be reckonable.

It is a distinction without a difference.

I think Deputy Costello is completely misinformed. He is misconceiving what a superannuation scheme is. In general——

We can take to the hills now.

——it is based on the assumption that a person is not paid everything he earns at periodic intervals but that a proportion is set aside in order to provide him with a pension. So far as I understand it, there is no question of providing any person with a pension in the Redundancy Bill. Therefore, the analogy which Deputy Costello tried to establish as between a superannuation scheme and redundancy payments does not exist.

That, of course, is all very clear.

Deputy Larkin rose.

Deputy Larkin, concluding on the amendment now.

Concluding again!

Concluding on the amendment.

The last speaker has confused the issue. He has deliberately confused it in order to create a certain situation. As Deputy Costello said, there are many schemes of compensation and retirement benefit operating in which interruptions in employment have occurred because of disputes, lock-outs, or strikes, and they have been settled on the basis that there would be no interference with the full rights of the employees concerned. In the case of the bank clerks, they were paid in respect of the period during which they were on strike. Now, we are not asking for that, but we are putting it to the Minister that, if there is a dispute next February, a month after this Bill comes into operation, and a dozen people stop work and 988 other employees find themselves out of work for three days, according to this legislation, a record will have to be kept for maybe ten, 15 or 20 years in order to show what interruptions have occurred during the ordinary working life of the employees, what the cause has been, whether it has been a lock-out or a strike, and these statistics will be compiled and kept for the sole purpose of depriving some workers of a very small amount of money. I think the Minister should explain this further. There are eminent legal people here who would find it difficult after a lapse of 20 years to pinpoint the actual cause of a stoppage of work and decide whether it was a strike or a lock-out.

This provision will create uncertainty. Might I remind the Minister—he may not be aware of it—that this type of situation kept the port of Dublin closed for a long time? After a week in which there was a dispute, and during which the workers did not even picket the port, the Labour Court intervened. A settlement had almost been reached when the question was raised as to whether the rights of the workers with regard to superannuation would be affected. The manager at the time was doubtful and because of his doubt, the port was almost closed for an indefinite period. Does the Minister visualise a situation arising in which part of the settlement of a dispute will turn on the question as to whether or not the redundancy compensation rights of workers will be affected five, ten, 15 or 20 years hence?

In relation to the question raised by Deputy Dillon, it is our view that a strike, whether it be official or unofficial, should be treated in the same way as a lock-out. No contribution towards peace in industry will be made by thinking in terms of legislating unofficial disputes out of the picture. However, this is not the time to deal with that particular matter. I put it to the Minister: how will anyone keep the type of records which will be required for the possible purpose of depriving someone of half a week's pay, or even a day's pay? This type of section creates nothing but problems. There is no principle involved other than that the Minister wants—I am sure it is unintentional on his part—to use this particular piece of legislation as a prelude to further legislation. The Minister is well attuned now to the views of Deputies. He has improved the Bill, following on consultation with certain people. I put it to him that it would be of great benefit both to employers and workers if he were to accept this amendment.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 42; Níl, 17.

  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Brady, Philip.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Burke, Patrick J.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Colley, George.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Fanning, John.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • Foley, Desmond.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, James M.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Hillery, Patrick J.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, James J.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • Ó Ceallaigh, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Timothy.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • Smith, Patrick.


  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Coughlan, Stephen.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dunne, Seán.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • Larkin, Denis.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Mullen, Michael.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tierney, Patrick.
  • Treacy, Seán.
  • Tully, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Carty and Geoghegan; Níl, Deputies M. O'Leary and Cluskey.
Question declared carried.
Amendment No. 28 not moved.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I said earlier on that I hoped to bring in the redundancy payments scheme based on this legislation on 1st January of next year and I told the House that in order to do this I would go ahead with certain administrative arrangements over the summer holiday period and later in anticipation of the Bill so that when the Bill would become law the scheme could be brought into operation without delay. I made the administrative arrangements anticipating legislation and I am satisfied that with the progress we have made it will be possible to introduce the scheme on 1st January, 1968.

A stage has now been reached where I consider that I should inform the House of certain measures which are necessary to facilitate the introduction of the scheme. These measures involve the making of announcements inviting the co-operation of people who will be affected by the scheme. I feel that before these arrangements are made I should tell the House of my proposals.

One matter on which immediate publicity is necessary relates to arrangements for the issue of redundancy contribution cards. I would like to tell the House what is involved in this. The redundancy cards for men will be issued through the employment exchanges and offices and the local agents of the Department of Social Welfare in conjunction with the exchange of the current social insurance cards. Employers will accordingly on the surrender of this year's social insurance cards for male workers receive in exchange two cards for each male worker, the social welfare insurance card for 1968 and the new redundancy contribution card. In the case of women, the social insurance cards are not due to be exchanged until the middle of the year and it will be necessary therefore to make special arrangements for the first issue of women's redundancy cards. What is proposed is that the issuing offices, employment exchanges and so on, will issue redundancy cards for women workers on the basis of lists supplied by the employers on request. These lists will give the names and the social insurance numbers of female employees who are to be covered by the scheme. This procedure will require the co-operation of employers and I propose to request employers through various public announcements to send, as soon as possible, to their nearest employment exchange, employment office or Local Agent of the Department of Social Welfare a list of the names and social insurance numbers of all their female employees who come within the terms of the redundancy scheme.

I know that Deputies will be in general agreement with this proposal which involves taking necessary publicity measures before the Bill is law, because it is designed to make sure that we can bring in the redundancy scheme on 1st January next. I would like to give some details of my proposals in relation to publicity material. I am very concerned that workers should be fully advised of their entitlements under the proposed redundancy payments scheme when it comes into operation and I intend to take all the necessary steps to ensure that this is done. On Committee Stage, I undertook to have a booklet about the scheme available for general information. This booklet will be available free of charge in the employment exchanges and local offices or direct from the Department of Labour on request before the 1st January next.

In addition, I intend that a special leaflet for the guidance of employers on how to make their arrangements will be available free of charge, too. I feel that those publicity measures to make workers and employers aware of their rights and obligations under the scheme are well worth having and I am sure the House will agree to this type of publicity being undertaken in anticipation of the enactment of the Bill by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

I am glad that the Minister has taken those steps to publicise this Bill as fully as possible and that there will be available to both employers and employees the kind of information which is very necessary for the proper working of the measure so that people will be aware of their rights in this matter. This is a very good thing. This matter of redundancy has been mentioned from time to time and I hope there will not be any great necessity in regard to payments under this redundancy measure. I hope the figures will not be large.

Redundancy may occur once during a person's life time or it may occur twice but the important thing is that the person who becomes redundant should be taken care of as soon as possible and as fully as possible. Another important matter is that elderly people who become redundant take more time to settle down than younger people. One thing which struck me in relation to an amendment tabled by the Labour Party was the question of strikes. I would very earnestly ask the Minister to look at this matter between now and the time he takes the Bill to the Seanad.

Superannuation schemes were mentioned in this context. Hardship could be imposed on individuals in regard to superannuation schemes because of loss of service, even a number of days. That is true particularly in regard to the teaching profession, about which I know most. Where teachers may be absent five or six days, this could mean a loss of years as regards pension. The Minister, as Minister for Labour, occupies a position midway between employers and employees. His job is to ensure good industrial relations. Anything he can do to keep both sides together and remove resentment of any kind as between employers and employees is something the Minister should bear in mind.

I would earnestly ask the Minister between now and the time he takes this Bill to the Seanad to look again at this matter and see if he could meet the point. I do not think it involves much but from the point of view of goodwill it could mean a great deal that the workers should not feel that this is something which would mitigate even against half a week's payment and in doing that the Minister will not be doing a disservice to anybody but as Minister for Labour, who is guiding the workers' interests at this stage, he would be doing them a great service. I would again earnestly appeal to him to consider this matter.

I am glad the Minister has given us some of those details and proposals to go ahead with now that we have come to the end of the passage of this Bill through this House. The members of the Labour Party have made a concerted effort in regard to this Bill. We put forward a number of amendments and if we should take away anything from this debate it is the fact that the Bill has been improved by the amendments which have been inserted during the course of this Bill through the House. The Minister has in some cases opposed our amendments but in many other cases he has accepted them. We look on this as a creative role. We consider that the amendments which have been accepted have strengthened this legislation. They have improved the Bill a great deal.

Fine Gael take note.

I hope the members of the press who have been splashing their inaccuracies in some of the papers last weekend will consider and understand the role of the Labour Party in this House.

The Deputy should not mention the press.

Having said that, I note that the main Opposition Party was missing for the last vote but evidently they have recovered by the vote on the last amendment. I hope they will be around for some more important votes in the future. We have explained that we are concerned to protect the people we are interested in. We have done so during the passage of this Bill and with a modest sense of pride I should say that we are very happy to contribute to this piece of legislation. We compliment the Minister on his acceptance of some of the amendments put forward by this Party.

Of course, Deputy O'Leary had to mark the 50 years of his friends by that speech.

I have just seen where the President sent a telegram to the President of Russia. If there was another President there, I am sure he would do the same.

Question put and agreed to.