Labour Court Database
File Number: CD/90/60
Case Number: LCR12843
Section / Act: S67
Parties: BAXTER HEALTHCARE S.A. - and - SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Dispute concerning the implementation of a 39 hour week.
6. The Court is satisfied that the recommendation regarding
future negotiations as outlined in LCR11656, which was accepted by
both parties and which has been incorporated into the
Company/Union Agreement, 1987-1990, is an important safeguard for
the future of the Company and its employees. However, having
regard to the period of years for which the permanent employees on
a 35 hour week contract of employment in the Swinford plant have
been employed, the Court finds that special regard should be given
to their situation in relation to the present issue.
The Court therefore recommends that the Company and the Union
enter into direct negotiations immediately in regard to the
particular needs of the group in the Swinford plant.
Should it not be possible for the parties to resolve this matter
by 30th April, 1990, the Court will, at the future request of the
parties, make a specific recommendation on this matter.
Division: Ms Owens Mr McHenry Mr O'Murchu
Text of Document__________________________________________________________________
CD9060 RECOMMENDATION NO. LCR12843
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1976
PARTIES: BAXTER HEALTHCARE S.A.
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Dispute concerning the implementation of a 39 hour week.
2. The Company operates two plants in Mayo, one in Castlebar and
the other in Swinford. The Swinford Plant operates three shifts -
one on 40 hours, one on 37 hours and one on 35 hours. Only two
shifts are operated in Castlebar - a 40 hour shift and a 35 hour
evening shift. Separate claims were served on both plants for the
introduction of a 39 hour week. Following lengthy local level
discussions the Company offered the reduction in both plants but
by different methods in return for a 39 hour week for all
employees. In Castlebar the 40 hour shift was offered an hour off
on Fridays with the evening shift going onto a 39 hour week. In
Swinford (where the three different shifts operated) all employees
were to work a standard 39 hour week. There was to be a standard
hourly rate with overtime being paid after the normal finishing
time each day. The increase in the hours for those on 35 and 37.5
hours would result in #22 and #13 extra per week respectively. In
addition, paid tea breaks were to be increased by ten minutes for
the second and third shift.
3. Both plants were balloted on the proposals. The Castlebar
plant voted in favour of the Company's proposal while the Swinford
plant rejected its offer by 88 votes to 33. However, the Company
amalgamated both votes which gave it a majority of five in favour
of acceptance. Management claimed that it was entitled to do this
under the terms of LCR11656 which stated inter alia that "for the
future, where issues arise which are common to both plants, they
should be negotiated jointly, the balloting should be on a joint
basis and the majority decision should be accepted." The Union
disagreed, claiming that two different offers had been made and
that the vote could not therefore be amalgamated. The Company
implemented a 39 hour week for all employees in both plants
effective from the 1st January, 1990 in Castlebar and the 15th
January, 1990 in Swinford. The Swinford employees are working the
new arrangements under protest, pending the outcome of the Labour
Court's investigation. As agreement could not be reached at a
conciliation conference in Castlebar on the 16th January the
matter was referred to the Labour Court for investigation and
recommendation. A Court hearing was held in Galway on the 13th
4. 1. The offer made to the Swinford plant was rejected by a
margin of almost 3 to 1. The reasons for the rejection of the
proposal can be summarised as follows:-
- people on forty hours per week wanted the hour off on
Friday - the Company did not provide this.
- those on 35 hours a week did not want to be increased to
- the proposal involved a reduction of an average of twelve
minutes per day in the meal/break times.
2. Those on 35 hours a week have an average service with the
Company in excess of 16 years and have contracts of employment
giving them 35 hours per week and they are not agreeable to
this being changed.
3. The Union strenuously rejects the attempts by the Company
to invoke the terms of LCR11656 in this case as the proposal
to the two plants is totally different. The only thing common
about the proposal is that it is for a 39 hour week. The
method of implementation in both plants is totally different.
Those in Castlebar who are employed on a 35 hour week are by
in large temporary employees on a fixed term contract who saw
the increase to 39 hours as an opportunity to earn more money.
4. The spirit and the intention of the Programme for National
Recovery was to reduce the hours of work. Nowhere in the
Programme was it intended that the hours of work be increased.
5. The Court is respectfully requested to recommend that
those on a 40 hour week be given an hour off on Friday the
same as the Company has done in the Castlebar plant and that
those on a 35 hour week remain that way. If both these are
agreed this will have the effect of leaving the existing tea
breaks as they are.
5. 1. In the Company's view Labour Court Recommendation 11656 is
quite clear. Part of that recommendation states:-
" Where issues arise which are common to both plants they
should be negotiated jointly, the balloting should be on a
joint basis and the majority decision should be accepted."
The recommendation also provided a 3% increase under the terms
of the Programme for National Recovery which was totally
contrary to the Company plan of maintaining a long term
competitive advantage on costs. However, the Company and the
Union in both plants accepted this total recommendation.
2. The Company has honoured its acceptance of the
recommendation at a high cost and it now feels absolutely
within its rights to expect the aggregate vote clause in the
recommendation to apply on this issue. The monetary terms of
the Programme for National Recovery were accepted and
implemented on a total majority basis in both plants. The
working hours terms of the Programme for National Recovery
must be dealt with also on a totally Company basis and not on
a sectional plant/department basis.
3. Negotiations were conducted in parallel with both branches
of the Union. From all Company correspondence on this issue
there can be no doubt that the Company requires a standard
working week of 39 hours for all employees across all shifts
in both plants. This remains its overall objective. In
Swinford a 3 fixed shift system is operated with employees
requiring 3 breaks per shift. Therefore for Swinford a 39
hour week has got to be implemented on an equal day basis for
all 3 shifts. The proposal is the same but the mechanism of
implementation is slightly varied to accommodate the
manufacturing process and local wishes on break times.
4. The terms of the Programme for National Recovery provides
for changes in the working week with due regard being given to
the type of process and costs associated with this for each
company. The approach is to increase productive time rather
than increase production standards. This is the best
procedure longterm to contain total unit costs.
5. For all employees on a fixed B/C shift in both plants it
has increased paid breaks by 10 minutes per day. Where
employees are increasing from 35 and 37.5 to 39 hours per
week, their hourly rate is increased and they are in fact
receiving an increase per week of approximately #22.00 and
6. The terms of the Company/Union Agreement under the
Management clause on page 4 states:-
" the Company has the sole right to decide the number of
shifts to be operated, and the hours of shift operation".