Murphy row ends with payout for sacked workers

J Murphy & Sons has agreed a compensation settlement with four sacked workers following a lengthy dispute.

The employees – fitters and welders working on a refurbishment project at Ireland’s giant Rusal Aughinish Alumina refinery – were dismissed in 2022 after a meeting at the plant to discuss the non-payment of travel and subsistence fees.

The Unite union then accused Murphy of union-busting, and organised protests and demonstrations targeting Murphy and its key business partners, customers and lenders. The London-headquartered contractor rejected the allegations, saying it had acted due to unlawful strike action.

The row has now drawn to a close, with the workers turning down the offer of a return to work but agreeing to receive an undisclosed sum in compensation.

In a statement agreed by both sides, Murphy confirmed that the dispute arising from the dismissal the workers by the company’s Irish subsidiary had been settled.

“The terms of the settlement are confidential, other than the parties being entitled to say that following rejection of reinstatement by the complainants, compensation has been paid by the respondent to the individuals,” it said.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the outcome had vindicated the union’s approach.

“Unite left no stone unturned to secure the vindication of our members in Ireland who were dismissed by the Murphy group of companies on what Unite believed to be spurious grounds,” she said.

In September, Graham called Murphy’s behaviour “deplorable” and called the firm “guilty of flagrant union-busting”.

However, Murphy responded by saying it “categorically refutes Unite’s misleading claims”, adding that the union’s account of the dismissals – and the allegation of union-busting – was “factually incorrect”.

In its September statement, Murphy added that it had acted in response to “unballoted, unnotified and therefore unlawful” strike action taken by a small minority of workers.

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