The Labour Court has upheld a recommendation made to a local authority to rescind a verbal warning imposed on a traffic warden for writing “under duress” on parking tickets she was ordered to issue to blood bank vehicles in Carrick-on-Suir.
A Rights Commissioner issued a recommendation in February to the former Carrick-on-Suir Town Council to rescind the verbal warning imposed on traffic warden Marie Dunne two years ago.
The Town Council appealed the Rights Commissioner’s decision to the Labour Court, which heard the appeal two weeks ago and concluded “there was no basis upon which the Court could interfer with that (Rights Commissioner’s) recommendation”.
SIPTU official Michael Kiely, who represented the traffic warden at the Right Commissioners case and in the Labour Court, said the Labour Court decision represented a “moral victory” for Ms Dunne.
And he criticised the local authority’s decision to appeal the Rights Commissioner’s recommendation as a “waste of tax payers money”.
He said the Labour Court decision vindicated Ms Dunne.
She was instructed to issue the tickets to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service vehicles parked outside The Carraig Hotel on Carrick’s Main Street on September 19, 2012.
Mr Kiely stressed Ms Dunne had done nothing wrong.
She obeyed the instruction but did it under protest, which was provided for under the 1999 Industrial Relations Act.
He said the fact that blood bank vehicles visiting the town for blood donations clinics were now allowed park for free in the town centre also vindicated Ms Dunne’s position.
The Rights Commissioner’s Recommendation stated that prior to the incident that gave rise to the verbal warning, the custom and practice existed of allowing the Blood Transfusion Service vehicles park in Carrick-on-Suir and the claimant was understandably aggrieved at the instruction.
It noted though that “the claimant should accept management’s requirement not to write comments on parking tickets”.
In relation to issuing the verbal warning, the Rights Commmissioner stated: “the same personnel, who issued the instruction carried out the disciplinary hearing and imposed the penalty”.
“This has been established as contrary to best practice and natural justice and in all the circumstances I recommend the verbal warning should be rescinded.”
At the Labour Court appeal, Mr Kiely reiterated the union’s argument that there was an unwritten local understanding that it was common practice not to issue parking tickets to IBTS vehicles parked in Carrick while blood donations clinics were taking place. The Council contravened the principles of natural justice in this matter, he maintained.
The Council, represented by the Local Government Management Agency, argued that it acted fully in accordance with its grievance and disciplinary procedures and the sanction imposed on the worker was warranted in the circumstances of the case.
It argued that the worker was afforded the right to fair and just procedures at all times.
The Co. Council declined to comment on the Labour Court recommendation when contacted by The Nationalist.