Payouts after two staff fired for changing Tic Tac recipe
TWO sweet makers were sacked by manufacturers Ferrero for changing the recipe on a batch of Tic Tacs at its Cork plant.
The Italian sweet giant sacked colleagues Declan Cotter and Lisa Ryan O'Connor for 'gross misconduct' concerning the two changing the recipe on a batch of Tic Tacs.
However, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has now found that the two were 'unfairly dismissed', saying that the tribunal did not feel the punishment fitted the 'crime'.
The tribunal has ordered Ferrero to pay €19,000 to Mr Cotter and €10,000 to Ms Ryan O'Connor.
SIPTU organiser John Cooney said yesterday that the sacking was "petty".
"The tribunal may have found in the workers' favour, but they lost their jobs over this and have to make a new life for themselves.
"It is good to get some award, but the workers would have much preferred to have held on to their jobs. The award in no way compensates for the loss of their jobs," said Mr Cooney.
Ferrero has produced the global brand of Tic Tacs since 1969 and the Cork plant, where 238 are employed, is profitable, recording pre-tax profits of €2.3m on revenues of €47.9m in 2012.
According to the tribunal, Ferrero sacked the two in July 2010.
Both were long-term employees with Ferrero Ireland, with Ms Ryan O'Connor beginning work in November 1998 and Mr Cotter with the firm since September 1999.
However, Ferrero claimed that arising from an incident at the plant in June 16, 2010, the two changed a sweet recipe and this had represented a breach of procedure.
Ferrero told the tribunal that "trust was vital in food production".
However, Ms Ryan O'Connor and Mr Cotter argued they had not knowingly changed the recipe and that the incident in question would never have occurred if Ferrero's equipment had been working properly.
They also pointed out that production was not suspended and Ferrero suffered no loss or damage.
Ms Ryan O'Connor said on the day she was afflicted by a back complaint and lifting equipment for loading weighty material into a tank was not working.
She had argued that she and Mr Cotter had ultimately been quite open and forthcoming about their actions.
The two were appealing a Rights Commissioner ruling that upheld Ferrero's decision to sack the two.
The EAT found both were unfairly dismissed having considered their overall financial loss and their contribution to the events that led to their dismissal.
A spokeswoman for Ferrero Ireland declined to comment.