INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SCHERING-PLOUGH (AVONDALE) COMPANY
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. The introduction of a 4 shift cycle.
2. The Company's parent-company, Schering-Plough Corporation, is a leading multinational corporation engaged in the manufacture of healthcare and pharmaceutical products. At Schering-Plough (Avondale), the Company's trading name at Rathdrum, the operation is one of bulk manufacture of active pharmaceuticals for human and veterinary consumption. The finished product is the raw product for the rest of the group for formulation into tablets, liquids and creams for therapeutic usage. The Rathdrum plant currently employs approximately 264 full-time permanent workers, with an additional 12 apprentices. In summer, 1995, the Company advised the Union of its intention to introduce a 4 shift cycle system. While the Company/Union agreement provided for such a shift system to be introduced, the parties were unable to agree terms for its operation. The Company set a date for its commencement and strike notice which was served, was withdrawn, and the shift operated, pending conciliation talks.
Conciliation conferences took place in October and November, 1995, at which a range of issues were discussed, including:- shift hours, leave, double-day shift, shift premium, sick pay scheme, compassionate leave, pension/bonus, public holidays and an outstanding pay claim. Agreement was not reached between the parties primarily on the pay issue, the Company claiming that it was the resurgence of a claim previously rejected by the Labour Court (LCR14651).
Proposals which were made, subsequently, by the Company were rejected and, following a further conciliation conference, the parties remained divided on the issue of pay. The dispute was referred to the Court, on the 2nd of July, 1996, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute, on the 12th of July, 1996.
3. 1. The Company is highly successful from a sales/profit point of view.
2. Scientific evidence supports the workers' position regarding the detrimental effects on them of shift-working (details supplied).
3. The Company/Union agreement allows for special local negotiations on the introduction of 3 or 4 shift cycle working.
4. The wage-rate anomaly of about 9% which exists between Schering-Plough (Avondale) and the Schering-Plough plant at Brinny (Cork) will have to addressed.
5. The loss of income through the elimination of overtime will have to be recognised, and dealt with, by the Company.
6. Account must be taken of the 12-hour work periods and this should be reflected in overtime payments, sick-pay scheme and compassionate leave entitlements.
1. The introduction of the 4 shift cycle was as a result of product demand and it is essential in terms of the continued survival of the Avondale plant that this product demand is met and the confidence of the US parent-company is retained. The extra product was achieved by greater capacity, better utilisation of equipment, increase in number of employees and the move from a 5-day to a 7-day operation.
2. It is the additional number of personnel employed and the associated increase in hours worked that have met the increased product demand and not individual productivity. Productivity has actually decreased from 70% down to 50% and this is due to the emphasis on quality, GMP and safety as is increasingly required by regulatory authorities such as FDA, EPA and HSA.
3. The conditions upon which an understanding has been reached are in keeping with established practice in comparable industries.
4. Pay and conditions attaching to employment at the Avondale plant are generous. The shift premia increase the rates, giving high potential earnings in each category and more than adequate compensation for the introduction of the 4 shift cycle.
5. The issue of the basic rate of pay has already been addressed by the Court in Recommendation No. LCR14651. The introduction of the 4 shift cycle attracts the standard premium of 331/3 %.
6. The pay element of the claim is an opportunistic one based on achieving parity with the sister-company in Brinny, an entirely different operation making different products for different markets, within the Schering-Plough Corporation.
The Court noted the good working relationship between the parties over a long period.
It is also apparent that a significant amount of common ground was found between the parties during conciliation.
Rather than the Court having to consider the issue within the parameters of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work, the Court would recommend that the parties have a final attempt at conciliation to resolve their differences.
If the parties fail to reach agreement, the Court will issue a Recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th August, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.