VFI pays two staff €43k for dismissal

THE Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has been ordered to pay €43,000 each to two former employees who it was found to have unfairly dismissed.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal had been told by the VFI’s former chief executive, Tadhg O’Sullivan, the federation made John O’Brien and Liam Sheehan redundant because its membership had endured “a constant haemorrhage” from 6,200 pubs in 2004 to 4,800 this year and, as a result, the organisation needed to streamline its staff.

However, the two men disputed his claim saying they were not considered for roles as organisation development officers which were subsequently introduced. Furthermore Mr O’Brien claimed he had been bullied by Mr O’Sullivan, an allegation the latter strenuously denied.

According to Industrial Relations News the Employment Tribunal, which reserved its judgment for a number of weeks after the June hearing, was critical of the way in which the employer dealt with the redundancy situation in the cases, given the ages of the two men (65 and 59) and their length of service which was over 10 years.

In awarding each man €43,000, the tribunal said the federation “acted unfairly in failing to consider earnestly the claimants’ proposals regarding the reorganisation of their work which would have realised significant savings”.

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