Labour Court Database
File Number: CD90433
Case Number: LCR12978
Section / Act: S67
Parties: COAL DISTRIBUTORS LIMITED - and - MARINE PORT AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION (MPGWU;AUTOMOBILE GENERAL ENGINEERING AND;MECHANICAL OPERATIVES UNION;SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Dispute concerning a reduction in manning levels by the Company and redundancy terms.
7. The Court has considered the submissions made by the parties
on the question of severance payments to the workers concerned.
It does not find any reason to amend the terms of redundancy
payments, already offered and accepted by the majority of the
staff in the Company, for the group of workers directly involved
in this case.
However, having regard to the seniority of this group within the
traditional structures applying in the industry, and which would
influence their opportunities to avail of seasonal employment in
the future, the Court recommends that the Company increase its
offer to those who might wish to opt off the list for such
employment to #2,500.
The Court also recommends that the workers concerned be offered
payment in lieu of notice to the amount provided by statute.
Finally the Court recommends that subject to these amendments the
severance package offered by the Company should be accepted and
the dispute terminated without further delay.
Division: Mr O'Connell Mr Keogh Mr O'Murchu
Text of Document__________________________________________________________________
CD90433 RECOMMENDATION NO. LCR12978
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1976
PARTIES: COAL DISTRIBUTORS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE FEDERATION OF IRISH EMPLOYERS)
MARINE PORT AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION (MPGWU)
AUTOMOBILE GENERAL ENGINEERING AND
MECHANICAL OPERATIVES UNION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Dispute concerning a reduction in manning levels by the
Company and redundancy terms.
2. The Company's main area of business is the sale of bituminous
coal in the greater Dublin area. Over the last five years there
has been a decline in coal sales mainly due to environmental
factors and a general trend away from domestic solid fuel heating
to alternative energy sources such as gas, oil, and electricity.
On 26th January, 1990 the Government announced its intention to
ban the marketing, sales, and distribution of bituminous coal in
Dublin City and County from 1st October, 1990. This effectively
means that the Company's future sales of solid fuel will be of the
smokeless variety. With this reduced future market in mind and in
order to maintain its viability the Company produced proposals for
rationalisation and staff reductions (details supplied to the
Court) which were outlined to the Unions at a meeting on 14th
March, 1990 and by letter from the Company on 16th March, 1990.
The proposals included a reduction in yard staff from 37 to 13 to
be achieved initially on a voluntary basis. The Company offered
to pay 4 weeks' pay per year of service including statutory
redundancy entitlement and pension rights. As an incentive those
accepting the offer before 29th March, 1990 could leave
immediately and receive pay in lieu of notice (up to 8 weeks in
some instances). Should the voluntary redundancies not meet the
requisite number the Company proposed to issue redundancy notices
on the 30th March, 1990 on a "last in first out" basis. In
relation to the need for casual labour to augment the Company's
manning levels at peak times, the Company made arrangements with a
contractor with which former employees of the Company could
register on a list.
3. These proposals were rejected by the M.P.G.W.U. who sought
extra jobs and enhanced redundancy terms. As no agreement could
be reached at local level, the matter was referred on 15th March,
1990, to the conciliation service of the Labour Court. A
conciliation conference was held on 26th March, 1990, at which no
agreement was reached. The M.P.G.W.U. indicated at the
conciliation conference that it would resist any compulsory
redundancies imposed by the Company after the deadline of 30th
March, 1990. The conciliation conference was adjourned to allow
the deadline to pass and as the Company was short 8 volunteers
after the deadline it issued redundancy notices to 8 employees on
a "last in first out" basis. Most of these employees are members
of the M.P.G.W.U. who then referred the matter, on 18th April,
1990, to a full hearing of the Labour Court but the hearing never
took place because it became clear that it was the only Union
making the request and the Company would only agree to deal with
the Union Group. On 24th April, 1990 the M.P.G.W.U. took
industrial action and placed pickets on the Company premises which
are on-going. The Company refused to negotiate while pickets
remained on its premises.
4. On 24th July, 1990 the M.P.G.W.U. agreed that if a
conciliation conference were arranged it would remove pickets for
the day and the Company agreed to attend on that basis. A
conciliation conference attended by the Unions and the Company was
held on 30th July, 1990 at which the M.P.G.W.U. claimed additional
jobs and increased compensation for those, affected by compulsory
redundancy (later quantified as 6 weeks gross pay per year of
service plus statutory entitlements for full and final termination
of employment with the Company). The Company rejected the claim
but was prepared to offer a lump sum of #500 to those workers who
were prepared to go off the list of casual workers. As no
agreement could be reached the matter was referred on 1st August,
1990 to a full hearing of the Labour Court. The M.P.G.W.U. agreed
to remove the pickets for the day of the hearing which took place
on 3rd August, 1990. The Court issued a recommendation by letter
on the 14th August, 1990.
5. 1. At the meeting of 14th March, 1990 at which the Company
outlined its rationalisation and redundancy proposals, no
indication was given that the Company had made arrangements
with a contractor to provide casual labour when required
following the implementation of the Company's proposals. Full
disclosure of all information in regard to this matter has
been denied to the M.P.G.W.U. by the Company and the
5. 2. The Company has embarked on a policy to eliminate
permanent positions and use contract labour to fulfil its
requirements. There is sufficient work for additional
permanent positions and the Company's insistence that there
are no permanent jobs available cannot be sustained.
3. Those workers who accepted the redundancy terms available
prior to 30th March, 1990 did so on the understanding that it
was the only settlement available. They also had an option to
register on a list with a particular contractor for recall for
casual work when required. These workers should benefit from
any improved redundancy terms and any compensation for coming
off the list.
4. There are now five members of M.P.G.W.U. affected by the
dispute. In a final effort to resolve the dispute the
M.P.G.W.U. proposed that it would recommend to its members
redundancy terms of 6 weeks gross pay per year of service plus
their statutory entitlements, which would be full and final
settlement for the termination of their employment with the
Company. The Company rejected this proposal.
6. 1. The Company now finds itself in a very serious position
and its very survival is at stake. Its future is dependent on
the coming winter season which will show the actual level of
business in the new market together with the public acceptance
or rejection of the new smokeless fuels. In this context the
Company is concerned that it may not be able to justify the
manning levels which it has retained and is not prepared to
adjust the manning levels upwards.
2. The redundancy package offered by the Company and accepted
by the majority of the workforce is very fair and reasonable
in all the circumstances. The seriousness of the Company's
position is clear and it is not in a position to respond to
the claim for an increase in the severance package.
3. The severance package has already been accepted by 24
clerical and 18 manual staff. If the Company agreed to an
improved package it would have repercussive effects for those
who already accepted the voluntary package.