Labour Court Database
File Number: CD90351
Case Number: LCR12932
Section / Act: S67
Parties: IRISH PRESS NEWSPAPERS LIMITED - and - DUBLIN PRINTING GROUP OF UNIONS
The recommendation in this case is too long for the Recommendation
Field of the Database. It is held in the Document Field.
Division: Mr O'Connell Mr Collins Ms Ni Mhurchu
Text of Document__________________________________________________________________
CD90351 RECOMMENDATION NO. LCR12932
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1976
PARTIES: IRISH PRESS NEWSPAPERS LIMITED
DUBLIN PRINTING GROUP OF UNIONS
1. Rationalisation Proposals.
2. Following its investigation of the dispute, the Court sets out
its recommendation hereunder.
3. The Court has been asked by the parties to examine and make
recommendations on the changes proposed by the Company and
incorporated in the Supplemental Agreements which differ in
specifics as between various groups and trades within the papers.
Following discussions with Management and the individual groups
the Court has come to the following conclusions.
Based on the financial information made available to it, and on
generally published figures which show a long and continuing
decline in circulation of all I.P.N. titles as well as a constant
decline in market share of advertising revenue, the Court concurs
with the view that continued publication of the papers as
presently produced is not commercially viable.
To reverse this undoubted decline, Management, inter alia, is
proposing the radical changes in work practices and conditions
which are incorporated in the Supplemental Agreements. In the
absence of the agreement on its proposals Management has already
announced the closure of all publications as and from the 23rd
July and it is in this context that this recommendation is made.
Two of these changes apply with varying degrees of severity upon
almost all the staff at present employed.
While much redundancy arises from organisational change a great
deal results from the proposed immediate and full application of
new technology, in which, in the event of survival, the Company
intends to place further major investment. Having regard to the
financial history of I.P.N. the Court accepts in general terms
that circumstances do not allow for the phased implementation of
change which is the approach suggested by those most immediately
affected and which in other circumstances would be deemed
reasonable. Taking into account the alternatives with which the
parties are faced, and unable to find any reasoned method by which
to modify or ameliorate the scale of redundancy inherent in the
Supplemental Agreements, the Court recommends that they be
Five Shift Working
However, by far the most universally controversial element in the
changes, contained in the Supplemental Agreements, is the proposed
reversion to a five day (35 hours) - or more accurately in most
cases - 5 shift over 7 day rostering. In the discussion with all
the groups affected it is true to say that the resulting changes
in work rosters are the most unacceptable aspect of all the
changes suggested. The Court finds itself not unsympathetic to
the objections raised, the proposal entailing as it does not only
an increase in hours worked but, by definition, for those involved
in shift type cover, an increase in both unsocial hours and
weekend attendances at work. Management when pressed however,
have insisted that this element in their proposals is essential to
the successful overall outcome of their re-organisation plans
providing them with more efficient staffing and more effective
management of staff.
Given the adamant and widespread opposition to the change, much of
which is fully understandable, the Court only very reluctantly has
come to the conclusion that, in the face of the alternative which
is clearly the closure of all the operations, the implementation
of five day (five shift) operation should be accepted, subject to
the terms set out hereafter.
One vital factor which arises from such an acceptance is the
urgent necessity by both parties once again to discuss in a
positive and reasoned manner the resultant rosters to which the
changes will give rise. The Court from its discussions has the 3.
clear impression that negotiations which up to now have taken
place have been overshadowed by the issue of principle involved in
5 shift working. While every effort should be made to eliminate
unsocial or unnessarily strenuous features from rosters, in the
final analysis only by experience in practice can firm conclusions
be drawn and necessary amendments agreed.
The Court has noted the various claims made by the different
groups in response to the Management's demands. These claims
based on such criteria as the existing shortfall in earnings
between Irish Press employees and those in other papers, and
compensation for the introduction of new technology must, in the
view of the Court, at this stage be considered against the
scenario of recurrent and increasing losses which have been
incurred by the I.P. group of papers over a period of years.
Management has offered 3% on acceptance of the Supplemental
Agreements, 3% at the time of the move to new premises and has
commited itself to payment of the terms of the next wage round.
In these circumstances the offer made by Management is recommended
for acceptance as the best possible at the moment and it does have
the virtue of ensuring that no further erosion of comparative
rates takes place in the medium term future.
Conditions and amendments on Management's Terms
Having, to the extent that it has done in the previous paragraphs,
accepted the main thrust of Management's proposals, the Court is
of the opinion that these terms ought not be recommended without
conditions and certain amendments.
In particular, having regard to the future, the Court is of the
opinion that should the terms be accepted, those remaining have a
justifiable right to expect that as the fortunes of the papers
change, so they may seek rates and conditions which are reasonably
comparable to those which prevail generally in the newspaper
industry in Dublin and the country. In this respect, the Court is
aware that in the past undertakings given by Management have not
materialised, if for no other reason than the continued and
sustained decline of the papers.
For this reason the Court is proposing the unusual step of making
recommendation of the general package conditional on the Company's
acceptance that its future performance over a period of time be
the subject of examination by the Court itself.
Specifically the Court is proposing that after a period of two
years from the introduction of the proposed technological changes
the terms offered by the Company should prevail.
At the end of that period the Court with the assistance of any
assessors which it may deem necessary will examine the progress
made to that date with a view to recommending what if any movement
may be made towards the elimination of such differences as may
then exist in salary levels and conditions of employment.
It is a major and integral part of this recommendation that
Management for its part must undertake to co-operate fully in such
A further examination on similar terms would be held on two
further occasions at annual intervals, after which time it would
be the hope and expectation of the Court that neither party would
require further third party intervention.
On the question of the payments for redundancies, following
critical comment on elements of unfairness as to the application
of the terms in certain cases, in particular to those workers in
their 50s with relatively short service, the Company has conveyed
to the Court amended terms as follows.
All employees over 50 and under 60 and with ten years or more
service should be paid either the basic Voluntary Severance Terms
as already offered or the equivalent of 18 months of pensionable
earnings at January 1, 1990, whichever is the higher.
The Court is of the view that this amendment represents a
considerable advance on the terms originally offered and
recommends that the overall terms as amended in this respect be
accepted as the best available in the circumstances.
The Court further recommends that those to whom the redundancy
terms apply should accept the offer of professional financial
advice or seek it for themselves to ensure the best individual
The Court also recommends an extension of the 15th June deadline
for volunteering for redundancy to a final deadline of the 13th
Loss of Earnings
In its discussions with a number of groups the Court became aware
that in certain instances and to varying degrees certain workers
stood to lose earnings either by reason of the introduction of new
rosters or from re-organisation of the work. In general terms the
Court recommends that such workers be compensated for such loss to
the amount of 1 year's individual loss after taking into account
the payment of the 6% increase on basic, this compensation to be
paid on implementation of Supplemental Agreements.
This general recommendation is qualified by specific
recommendations in certain instances which follow.
The Court notes the apparent anomaly which exists in respect of
leave entitlement and is of the opinion that this is logically
difficult to sustain given the attempt to apply other terms
uniformally to all employees. Whilst acknowledging that as of now
the Company will have difficulty in sustaining additional costs
the Court recommends that as an earnest of good intent the Company
should grant an additional 2 days' annual leave in respect of the
leave year 1991, 2 in 1992 and a further day in 1993, to those
currently entitled to 5 weeks' leave.
Pre-retirement courses, adoption leave - the Company agreed to
look favourably at these claims.
As training and retraining is in many cases vital to the
successful implementation of the planned changes the Court
recommends that the parties meet at the earliest opportunity to
agree the best means and methods by which such training should be
Finally having regard to the crucial importance which the final
decision on the terms of this Recommendation has for the workforce
as a whole the Court recommends that the Group of Unions should
arrange to coordindate the balloting and arrange if possible a
simultaneous announcement of the results.
The following recommendations are within the context of the above
general recommendation and relate to specific issues raised by
individual groups and unions.
The Court, whilst acknowledging the opposition to the 5 shift
working recommends that this Union, as others, should accept the
terms offered on the conditions provided in the general
recommendation particularly as they are the one body with the
greatest potential gain in terms of job security and new jobs from
the success of the new system. In particular, rosters should be
discussed on the basis of the staffing required both to facilitate
the proposed new relationship of journalists with a particular
paper, and to iron out unsocial elements.
In respect of the N.U.J. in particular this should not present an
insuperable obstacle in light of Management's declared intention
to augment this sector of the workforce as the full effect of the
introduction of new technology becomes apparent.
The Court further recommends that on commencement of the new
roster system Management should eliminate outstanding "time off in
lieu" by payment of cash or granting time off as chosen by the
individual. In the future the terms of the Supplemental Agreement
to the taking of time in lieu should apply.
The Court finds that in general the extent and pace of the changes
required in the Supplemental Agreement, which in turn relate to
the financial position of I.P.N., does not allow for the phasing
in of changes as outlined in the Union's counter proposals.
The Court therefore recommends that the Supplemental Agreement be
accepted on the basis of the amended redundancy proposals.
The Court further recommends that the definition of overseers'
functions be amended as clarified at direct discussions.
As regards the plate-making section the Court recommends that
staffing be maintained at present level pending the introduction
of the bending machine.
Insofar as many major redundancies will only come about after the
installation of the new equipment the Court further recommends
that Management actively explore with this group the extent to
which redundancy may be alleviated by redeployment of suitable
applicants to the editorial department. The Court would also
encourage those who may be interested to take advantage of
Management's offer of professional financial and other advice and
assistance on the possibility of establishing an independent
business based on their skills and experience. They should also
avail of the help and guidance available from state agencies.
The terms of the recommendation relating to loss of earnings
should apply to personnel of this Union in the machine room
involved in intersetting.
In respect of these workers the Court does not feel that it has
any option but to recommend the acceptance of the amended
redundancy terms for those in the wire room as the new technology
renders the wire room obsolete. In view of the re-organisation of
picture processing the reduction of functions supports the
contention that process staff should also be reduced by 2 but it
will be necessary for the parties to agree a reasonable roster.
Again the Court recommends that the Union and the Company should
actively explore the possibility of alleviation of the redundancy
by means of redeployment of suitable personnel to the editorial
department and elsewhere.
Subject to amended redundancy proposals the Supplemental Agreement
incorporating amalgamation and interchangeability of various
groups should be accepted. In this case in addition to
Management's proposal to standardise basic rates as between the
group the Court recommends that the terms of the general
recommendation on loss of earnings should apply. Specifically it
recommends in this case on the basis that loss of earnings over
#18,000 per annum (an amount incorporating the proposed pay
adjustment of 6% plus an estimated sum for incidental overtime)
should be compensated to the amount of 1 year's loss as
The Court notes that with the exception of the application of 5
shift working to amended rosters a considerable number of
outstanding issues with this group have been settled by direct
discussion and that a number of proposals have been amended or
modified by agreement.
As regards the rosters the Court at direct discussion had the
impression that the parties were close to agreement. Again it
would recommend that the approach suggested in the general
recommendation should apply in arriving at finality on this issue.
The position of copyholders is dictated by the use of direct
access. The position of copyholder therefore becomes redundant.
The redundancy proposals and redeployment proposals are all that
can be offered to this group.
Consistent with the terms of the general recommendation the Court
recommends that the redundancy terms as amended be accepted by
those affected in this group. Again the Court notes that a number
of issues have been settled by direct discussion between the
parties. On the matters outstanding the Court recommends as
Hours of Work (5 shift 35 hour week)
As recommended in respect of other groups the Court recommends
that changes required by Management should be accepted.
The Court recommends that the Union's conditions on the
redeployment of staff from other areas into S.I.P.T.U. 2 area
should be accepted subject to the Union not raising unreasonable
objections to such redeployment.
The Court recommends that the same terms and conditions as apply
to permanent staff, should apply to temporary casual staff.
The Court is satisfied that given the changes in the immediate
past and the further changes which will come about as a result of
the implementation of the Supplemental Agreements that an
investigation of grading structures is desirable. However, given
the potential increase in costs which would arise from such an
exercise which would be contrary to the intent of the general 13.
recommendation in respect of the first 2 years, the Court does not
recommend a specific time scale for completion of the exercise as
proposed by the Union.
The Court recommends that this system now be accepted by the staff
The Court notes the offer of detailed discussions on the
application of new technology where it arises and in the context
of overall acceptance of the terms of this recommendation,
recommends that these take place as soon as practical.
It is clear to the Court that this group will be vital to the
successful implementation of new sales and marketing initiatives
needed to turn around the present decline of I.P.N. publications
and it is also clear that the staff concerned are agreeable and
willing to meet the challenge this entails but certain of the
detailed proposals put forward by Management have given rise to
either apprehension or misunderstandings. From discussions with
the parties it seems to the Court that Management might best start
the process by commencement of the proposed training programme in
the context of which the purpose of the changes proposed and in
particular the positive aspect of sales accompaniment might be
The Court itself, following its discussions, is satisfied that the
matter of sales accompaniment is not intended as a punitive or
control mechananism on the staff concerned, and having regard to
the key position occupied by these staff does recommend that they
accept the Management's proposals.
As regards the changes in incentives and territories the Court
recommends that the protection of earnings proposals be amended by
extension if necessary of four three monthly periods, subject to a
review at the end of each period to ascertain the reason for any
difficulties which are being experienced.
In this instance the Court recommends that Management's staffing
proposals be accepted and that subject to the overall terms of
this recommendation new rosters to accord with the proposals be
In respect of the workers involved the recommendation on loss of
earnings should also apply.
The Court understands that one of two outstanding issues which
constituted an obstacle to agreement with this Union has been
resolved locally. On the further question of consolidation of
certain extra payments into basic the Court recommends that
subject to the E.T.U. accepting the same conditions which attached
to the payment for flexibility given to fitters that this be
consolidated into the electricians' basic rate.
With this specific amendment the Court recommends that the
Supplemental Agreement as drafted should be accepted.
Two major issues were raised by this group which give rise to
On the question of the provision of transport, in the overall
context in which this recommendation is made, the Court recommends
that the Company's offer in this respect be excepted.
As regards other guarantees sought on their behalf, the Court is
of the opinion that given the requirement of the papers to
increase market share in which their Managers will play a key role
it would hardly be possible for Management to commit itself to
organisational rigidity at this stage, particulary in this sector.
Any change which does arise however should be subject to full
consultation with the staff concerned. The Court therefore
recommends acceptance of the Supplemental Agreement as proposed.
The recommendation in this case is too long for the Recommendation
Field of the Database. It is held in the Document Field.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th June, 1990. Deputy Chairman