Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 09 November, 2004
Written Answers. - Redundancy Payments.
Mr. McGuinness Mr. McGuinness
229. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason for the meeting held between officials of his Department and representatives of the workforce of a company (details supplied) in County Kilkenny which took place at the factory; if there was an outcome to the meeting; if officials have put forward a solution to satisfy all parties which is awaiting a political response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27757/04]
Mr. Killeen Mr. Killeen
Mr. Killeen: At the request of the Tánaiste, two officials of my Department travelled to Kilkenny to meet union officials, workers’ representatives and Mr. Martin Carroll, county councillor, at the factory (details supplied) on 23 June 2003. The manager of the company attended as an observer for a short while. There have been no further meetings since that time, nor is it envisaged that there will be any such meetings.
The union officials and the workers’ representatives spoke at the meeting. They made the case that the workers who had been made redundant up to January 2003, before the new enhanced rates came into force in May 2003, should be retrospectively paid these enhanced rates. However, these workers were paid about 3.2 times the then statutory rate by the company on a voluntary basis.
The legal advice given to my Department when this type of issue was considered during the drafting stage of the Bill to give statutory effect to the new enhanced rates was that retrospective effect could not be given, as to do so would be placing a legal onus on employers retrospectively. The Oireachtas is not permitted to impose retrospection on employers in these circumstances. Unfortunately for the workers concerned, my Department is precluded from paying the enhanced rates of redundancy with retrospective effect.
The case was also made on behalf of these workers that, if it was not legally possible to meet their claim for payment of the enhanced rates, the  Government should consider bringing a scheme to the Oireachtas to enable them to be paid the enhanced rates from the social insurance fund, SIF, as a special case. This proposal was also considered and deemed impractical. It would mean making a special case for the workers concerned on the basis that they had missed out by being made redundant quite some time before the new enhanced rates were passed by the Oireachtas into law. Many thousands of other workers are in a similar position and could make a case for special treatment.
It was also mentioned at the meeting, which the officials attended, that during the negotiations with the employer, the workers had intimated that they were at that time prepared to accept, in final settlement of their claim for extra statutory redundancy payments from the employer, the 60% rebate the employer was entitled to receive from the SIF. I have no say in what the employer does with the 60% refund, which he was legally entitled to be paid from the SIF.
It is regretted that the workers in this factory and other workers in similar circumstances have not been able to benefit from the increased redundancy payments. However, the legal position cannot be changed, nor can special legislative provisions be made for any particular group of people.
Dáil Éireann 592 Written Answers. Redundancy Payments.