Illegally Sacked Man Gets €16,000

MEDIA ROOM

As recently reported in the local media, a man who received two warnings and a termination letter in four days won €16,000 compensation after the Industrial Tribunal found he was wrongly dismissed.

Advanced Telecommunications Systems Company Ltd did not only fail to prove it was justified in firing Raymond Borg but, worse still, failed to give him the opportunity to defend himself on the accusations against him, the tribunal concluded.

Mr Borg said he had received a termination letter on June 2, 2009 along with two letters, dated May 29 and June 1, which the company said were warnings. He said he had never received any warning in almost 10 years of employment with the company. Advanced Telecommunications Systems submitted that Mr Borg had refused to attend courses abroad to learn more about new technologies, something that was vital for him to carry out his work. It said it had been going through a difficult patch at the time because orders had dwindled by 40 per cent, so it had started a restructuring programme to cut its workforce by 10 per cent along with other cost-cutting measures. The tribunal heard that Mr Borg was the only one who was fired and that two other employees who left had resigned for other reasons.

“It was only at this stage of proceedings that the company brought up the redundancy issue,” tribunal chairwoman Mary Gaerty noted in her award, quoting the company chairman saying that his firm had never had financial problems. The tribunal said Mr Borg’s dismissal was the direct result of problems with a specific machine the company had supplied. It could not solve the problems and had to turn to a competitor. The company had reduced the salary of Mr Borg and his colleague by €240 as a result of the extra expense it had to foot to solve the problem. But this was found to be an illegal move, so the Employment and Industrial Relations Department ordered the reversal of the decision and a refund. It seems that the company was frustrated that Mr Borg used to stick up for his rights

Moreover, the tribunal said it had not been proven that Mr Borg was to blame for what happened. “It seems that the company was frustrated that Mr Borg used to stick up for his rights and reacted by issuing a termination letter with allegations of shortcomings, along with two letters described as warnings to justify this action,” the tribunal said. It found that the company had sacked Mr Borg illegally and had also failed to give him the opportunity to defend himself. Mr Gaerty therefore ordered the company to pay Mr Borg €16,000 by way of compensation.