Labour Court Database
File Number: CD88205
Case Number: LCR11864
Section / Act: S67
Parties: TRETORN SPORT LIMITED - and - IRISH TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Claim on behalf of 3 workers employed as spreading and cementing operative for parity with felt cutting operatives.
Division: Ms Owens Mr Heffernan Mr O'Murchu
Text of Document__________________________________________________________________
CD88205 RECOMMENDATION NO LCR11864
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1976
PARTIES: TRETORN SPORT LIMITED
(Represented by the Federated Union of Employers)
IRISH TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
1. Claim on behalf of 3 workers employed as spreading and
cementing operative for parity with felt cutting operatives.
2. The Company was established in Portlaoise in 1972 and
manufactures high quality tennis balls for sale mainly in European
Markets. The Company currently employs 120 people. There is no
formal grading structure for pay purposes. However, there are a
number of different categories of employee with production divided
into various functional areas (details supplied to the Court).
3. Rates of pay for some categories are calculated on the basis
of piece rates while others are paid a fixed hourly rate. The
Company also operates a three shift system for some categories and
a shift premium is paid as appropriate.
4. As part of the 27th Wage Round claim the Union sought parity
for the spreading and cementing operatives with felt cutting
operatives. The workers concerned prepare the raw material for
direct manufacturing. They are paid £5.02 and £4.91 per hour
respectively. The rate for felt cutting operatives is £5.58 per
5. The parties reached agreement on the 27th wage round except on
this item and agreed to process the claim through the Grievance
Procedure. The Company rejected the claim following meetings at
local level and the matter was referred to the Conciliation
Service of the Labour Court on 25th November, 1987. A
Conciliation Conference was held on 27th January, 1988. As no
agreement was possible the parties agreed to a referral to the
Labour Court for investigation and recommendation. A Court
hearing was held in Tullamore on 3rd May, 1988.
6. 1. The Company introduced a new product (a new high quality
tennis ball) which requires greater skill and responsibility
from the workers concerned. As they are involved in the
initial preparation of the raw material for the finished
product it is imperative that they carry out their duties
with minimal mistakes to avoid costly waste. The Union
contends that this work is of equal value to that of the felt
cutting operation and therefore it is not unreasonable for
the workers concerned to seek the same rates as comparative
2. During the course of discussions on the claim the Company
expressed fears that concession of the claim would lead to a
possible "wage drift or leap frog" situation. The Union has
undertaken to give firm guarantees concerning same and
suggested that the matter be resolved on a "red circle"
3. There are only a small number of workers involved in the
claim and the strictures imposed by the National Programme
(applicable for 3 years from 1st December, 1988) should
adequately temper Management's fears concerning consequential
4. The Company has argued that the rate applicable for the
felt cutting operatives is artifically high. The Union does
not accept this. The workers concerned are being paid at a
fixed hourly rate which was arrived at and agreed following
negotiations in 1982.
7. 1. The felt cutting rate is an artifically high rate which
has its origins in a piece rate which was in operation until
1982. In 1982 the Company introduced a new Felt Cutting
Machine and as a result of this, the felt cutting operatives
were taken off piece rates and put on a fixed hourly rate
which was the subject of negotiations at that time. The
fixed rate agreed was based on the average of the piece rates
then applicable. It is utterly ludicrous to now attempt to
pin other rates to the felt cutting rate, given the origins
of this rate.
2. The comparison being made is untenable. A claim on the
basis of equal value would only be relevant if the basis for
payment of the comparators was an evaluation of the job both
intrinsically and with reference to other job categories in
the Plant. This is not the case.
3. If the Company were to concede an increase to the
claimants, whether or not that increase would amount to full
parity with the felt cutting operatives, then the Company
would be compounding the problem by recognising the validity
of making comparisons with the felt cutting operatives. In
addition, the Company is extremely concerned about the
"knock-on" effects of this claim for other sections of the
4. The current rates of pay of the claimants are the second
highest fixed hourly rates in the factory and compare very
favourably not only with general rates of pay in the
Portlaoise area, but nationally.
8. The Court having considered the submissions from both parties
(1) The present cutting machinists be "red circled".
(2) The parties negotiate and agree a new rate for cutting
machinists which will apply to all future entrants.
(3) The rate agreed as at 2 above to apply to the three
The Court considers that these negotiations should be concluded
and the new rate applied to the claimants from 1st September,
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th May, 1988 Evelyn Owens
M.D./P.W. Deputy Chairman