Labour Court Database
File Number: CD90291
Case Number: LCR12997
Section / Act: S67
Parties: ARLINGTON LIMITED - and - SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Claim concerning the introduction of a 39 hour working week.
5. Having considered the submissions from the parties the Court
recommends that the Company amend its offer of 1/8/90 from 5 rest
days annually to 6 days and that the Union accept the terms of
that offer as amended.
Division: Ms Owens Mr McHenry Ms Ni Mhurchu
Text of Document__________________________________________________________________
CD90291 RECOMMENDATION NO. LCR12997
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1976
PARTIES: ARLINGTON LIMITED
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Claim concerning the introduction of a 39 hour working week.
2. 1. The Company is a subsidiary of Avon Products Inc. There
are approximately 500 workers employed in its plant at
Portarlington, where costume jewellery and soap products are
manufactured for the European, Canadian and Japanese markets.
2. The Company entered phase 1 of the PNR on 1st September,
1988, and is now in the latter stage of the second phase.
Discussions have been ongoing since September 1989, on a
reduced working week. Currently, the main operative grades
work a regular 40 hour week, over five days, from 8.00 a.m. to
4.30 p.m. with two eighteen minute paid tea breaks and a half
hour unpaid lunch break. Company proposals for a 39 hour week
were rejected by the Union in September, 1989. Further
proposals in February 1990 were again rejected. These
included the introduction of a reduced working week effective
from 1st January, 1991, by way of an early finish on Fridays,
the reduction of all paid breaks by 3 minutes, the elimination
of the Friday afternoon break and the elimination of the 3
minute wash up time which applied in certain areas. The
proposals were rejected on the basis that the reduced working
week was not operative from 1st July 1990, that the
arrangement would recoup 45 minutes from the majority of
workers and 90 minutes from approximately fifty workers.
Workers also had a preferred option of implementing the
reduced working week by way of an accumulation of lieu days.
The issue was referred to the conciliation service of the
Labour Court on 8th March, 1990. It was the subject of a
conciliation conference on 19th April, 1990. As no agreement
was reached the Union sought a full Court hearing. The
Company agreed and a hearing was arranged for 2nd August,
1990. On 1st August 1990 the Company made the following offer
to the Union:-
"Further to our earlier discussions on the Programme for
National Recovery and proposals submitted to you, we now
propose an alternative package which hopefully you will
find more amenable and acceptable to your members.
We propose a reduction in all paid breaks from eighteen
minutes to fifteen minutes, with the introduction of five
rest days annually, back dated to 1st July, 1990. These
rest days may be used at the discretion of the Company.
These rest days are in accordance with the P.N.R.
regarding the reduced work week and are quite distinct
from holiday entitlement."
The offer was rejected as the Union sought 6 rest days
annually if the Company were to reduce all tea breaks by 3
minutes. The Court investigated the dispute on 2nd August,
3. 1. Workers, by way of their curtailment in wage increases,
have already contributed to the Company's competitive trading
position. They have also permitted the introduction of other
rationalisation schemes in the workplace. If the Company
reduce all paid breaks by three minutes, workers will insist
on 6 rest days accumulating annually from the P.N.R. The
52/48 hours which workers will accrue annually entitles them
to a minimum of 6 extra days.
2. The Company state that rest days resulting from the P.N.R.
may be used by workers at management's discretion. Workers
and management should have a balanced discretion as to when
and how those days should be used. As the extra days off will
not result in a Company closedown and as they will be used on
a staggered basis, workers should have an input into when and
how they avail of them.
4. 1. Clause 4 of the Programme for National Recovery states:-
"Employers and unions, in making agreements for the
reduction in working time shall, in accordance with
Clauses 7 and 8 of the main agreement
(i) Having regard to:
- the costs involved
- the implications for competitiveness
- the need for flexibility
- the effect on production and services
- the effect on jobs
- the exigencies of the work involved
- the effect on the public finances, and
(ii) agree arrangements for the efficient use of
- human resources
The criteria outlined above should be utilised so as to
minimise any adverse effect on costs and employment."
The production of jewellery is labour intensive with labour
costs contributing to over 50% of total product cost.
Competitive supply to the Company's markets is from very low
labour cost regions i.e. The Far East and Caribbean. A
reduction in the working week, without receiving any
concession will result in an increase of 2.5% to Company
labour costs. As the increase cannot be absorbed by the
Company, it will have to be passed to the customer. The long
term effect of such an increase could result in the loss of
orders and consequently the loss of jobs. As a result of
progress during the past few years the Company will produce
more units in 1990 than it has produced in any other year
since 1984. This in turn will have a positive effect on
employment and job security. The Company wishes to maintain
this level of growth and can only do so by maintaining and
improving its competitive edge, thus increasing its market
share and reducing that of its competitors.
4. 2. Individual employees have gained economically, during the
P.N.R. period. The Company distributed special gain sharing
awards in a manner most beneficial to lower paid workers,
using an equal share payout method instead of the traditional
percentage of salary method. In addition it has held canteen
beverage assessment at no increase for three years, absorbing
#10,000 per annum.
3. The Company has an exceptionally generous break policy.
Reducing breaks by three minutes will not result in a loss of
earnings or in any suffering to the workforce.
4. The Company offer of 1st August, 1990 is a fair and
reasonable concession. It is imperative that the resulting
rest days are varied when being availed of, as the Company
serves international markets. While the Company must continue
to be fair to its workforce, it must also safeguard the future
of its business.