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Court ruling a drag to paid smokers

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — A row about paid smoking breaks in a Dublin factory has led to the Labor Court recommending a millennium countdown to a complete ban on the weed.

The dispute followed an overwhelming rejection by workers of proposals to phase out the fags.

The Arthur Dagg company, which supplies elastic fabrics to UK shop chain Marks and Spencer, said it had been trying to phase in a ban-the-weed policy for some time.

"The company’s stance on the elimination of smoking, apart from cost implications, is derived from health and safety considerations," according to the court findings. "It cannot continue to pay workers to smoke, as it considers itself exposed to litigation."

Workers have been allowed three paid smoking breaks of up to eight minutes each per shift.

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Two years ago they had been provided with a special cubicle to puff away in.

Staff were also offered incentives, including a monthly draw, for those who didn’t use the smoking room during unofficial breaks.

In her recommendation, the court deputy chairman, Caroline Jenkinson, said tea and coffee facilities should be provided in the smoking room.

The paid breaks should be reduced to two until the end of this month and one until the end of July.

Afterward, smoking should only be allowed in the smoking room at official break times and it would be banned beginning in January.

Jenkinson said that while it was quite understandable the company wanted to end the paid smoking, it could not be overlooked that a custom and practice had developed.

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