Violinist laid off by RTE is awarded €13,500
The Labour Court has recommended that RTE pay a laid-off violinist from the National Symphony Orchestra a compensation award of €13,500.
In making the recommendation, the Labour Court has nearly doubled the initial €7,500 award recommended by a Rights Commissioner.
The Rights Commissioner ruled that "in light of the unique circumstances pertaining in this dispute, I am recommending that the claimant be given first option on any available temporary work for tutti violinists for a period of one year from the date of this recommendation".
The commissioner also recommended that the violinist be paid €7,500 compensation for "the financial distress and hardship arising from the unanticipated termination of her employment".
However, SIPTU appealed the award made by the Rights Commissioner to the Labour Court.
RTE laying off the violinist coincided with the broadcaster making drastic cuts at its RTE Concert and National Symphony Orchestras.
Her two-year contract was terminated 22 months into the contract and she was given assurances in writing that another contract of three years' duration would be offered to her.
The Labour Court report said that "she is seeking either a contract of indefinite duration or compensation for the early termination of her employment. Management reject her claims in total."
SIPTU told the court that the musician's life and professional career "have been subjected to upheaval and she has suffered significant financial loss".
SIPTU also stated that the violinist was reassured until shortly before her termination that her contract would be extended.
In its argument, RTE stated that the individual decision in this case should be seen in the context of organisation-wide pay cuts, reduction in headcount through retirements, career breaks, voluntary redundancies and non-renewal of fixed-term contracts.
The station argued that "this is not a redundancy, compulsory or otherwise, but rather the expiry of a fixed-term work contract which occurs approximately a hundred times per year within the organisation".
The Labour Court ruled there is merit in the claim, stating that the award is not proportionate to the injury suffered, and awarded €13,500 "in full and final settlement".