TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has committed to pursuing the issue of 38 vulnerable Limerick workers who lost their jobs at the Rehab Group’s Logistics Centre in Raheen last year and haven’t yet received redundancy payments.
Responding to a Dáil question from Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, Mr Martin said it “would be very regrettable if an organisation that receives substantial funding from the State would renege on a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) agreement.
“This agreement was reached some years back in respect of redundancy. I will certainly pursue it and will ask the Minister to do so,” he added.
Deputy O’Dea said that the redundant workers, many who have profound disabilities, have had their claim for redundancy endorsed by both the WRC and a recent Labour Court ruling.
He asked the Taoiseach if he would use the Government’s influence to ask Rehab Ireland to honour its commitment to these vulnerable workers, particularly as the amount of money involved is “only a couple of hundred thousand euro”.
“Rehab is the beneficiary of significant State funding and they should not be treating their former workers like this. In essence they are giving the two fingers to the Labour Court and the vulnerable people who used to work for them.
“We have to remember that these are workers with disabilities who will have enormous difficulty in finding work elsewhere in the economy. We also have some of the worst records in the developed world for employing people with disabilities. This redundancy issue has to be seen in the context of people with little to look forward to and the immense worry and distress their families are now facing,” Deputy O’Dea added.
Meanwhile the former Rehab workers, who are members of the SIPTU trade union, have expressed their deep frustration at the delay in implementing the Labour Court recommendation.
The company contended that it could not afford to pay the agreed redundancy terms of six weeks’ pay per year of service. It paid the workers only their statutory redundancy entitlements and let them go.
The workers were informed on November 25 that the boards of Rehab Enterprises and the Rehab Group are due to meet to consider the Labour Court recommendation.
“Our members are now some 20 months without their collectively agreed redundancy payments and are deeply frustrated by the continued delay by the Rehab Group in honouring the Labour Court recommendation that it should pay what they are owed”, SIPTU organiser Robbie Purfield said.
“We are particularly concerned that a body in receipt of State funds appears to be delaying implementing a recommendation from another State body.
“We have been in contact with politicians across all parties who support the position of our members. We are also considering further actions we may take if the Rehab Group continues to delay in honouring the Labour Court recommendation,” he added.