‘Grinch’ Capita Plc’s refusal to pay Labour Court recommendation highlights need to review public procurement rules

unite-white-out-of-redUnite members hand in letter to Paschal Donohoe

Union says case points up deficiencies in collective bargaining provision

Unite members today (Thursday 14 December) handed in a letter to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe highlighting Capita Plc’s ongoing refusal to pay the enhanced redundancy terms recommended by the Labour Court in respect of six Unite members made redundant by AMT-Sybex, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capita.  According to replies to Dail questions tabled by David Cullinane TD, the outsourcing giant holds departmental contracts worth nearly €140 million. Before handing in the letter, members and supporters held a ‘Grinch’-themed protest outside the Department.

In their letter to the Minister, Unite expresses members’ deep disappointment at the Minister’s failure to respond substantively to a previous letter sent in October, and urges the Minister to review Capita’s public contracts in light of the company’s failure to engage with the state’s industrial relations machinery and implement the Labour Court recommendation.

The union also references correspondence from Capita inferring that  members’ decision to be represented by Unite was a contributory factor in the dismissal of their appeal against redundancy, and points out that this highlights the deficiencies in Ireland’s industrial relations legislation and the ongoing failure, including in the most recent legislation, to properly provide for collective bargaining.

The letter to Minister Donohoe, signed by Unite Regional Officer Bernard Daly, notes that:

“[…] the difference between statutory redundancy of two weeks per year of service, and the enhanced redundancy terms of 5.5 weeks per year of service recommended by the Labour Court, would cost Capita less than €500,000 – a tiny fraction of what they have reaped from public contracts. It should be further noted that Capita Plc recorded operating profits in excess of £500 million in 2015 and 2016.

[…]

Capita has an ongoing and extremely lucrative relationship with the State, despite the fact that it is in a small minority of rogue employers who are prepared to disregard the state’s industrial relations machinery. You will no doubt be aware that 95% of all Labour Court recommendations are implemented by employers”.

Mr Daly also points out that “Capita’s inference that our members’ decision to be represented by Unite was a contributory factor in the dismissal of their appeal again highlights the deficiencies in the Ireland’s industrial relations legislation and the ongoing failure, including in the most recent legislation, to properly provide for collective bargaining”.

The letter urges that all existing State contracts be immediately reviewed and that no further public contracts be awarded to Capita unless and until they indicate their willingness to engage collectively with their workers and comply with the Labour Court’s recommendation.

Concluding, Mr Daly advises the Minister that Unite will be pursuing all avenues open to the union in pursuit of members’ legitimate claims.

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