INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
THE SUNDAY TRIBUNE
- AND -
GRAPHICAL PAPER AND MEDIA UNION
1. Company's proposal to make two employees redundant.
2. The Sunday Tribune was established in the early 1980s to produce a Sunday newspaper for the Irish market. Its current circulation levels are approximately 78,000 copies.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Company's proposal to make two employees redundant. The workers concerned are employed in the production department in the operation of camera and autocan scanning equipment. Major restructuring of the Company has taken place in all other areas of the operation over the past 12 months.
The Company argues that it has recorded considerable losses in recent years and must reduce its cost base and that the levels of work in the production area are not sufficient to maintain the current levels of employment.
The Union states that it will not accept compulsory redundancy. It claims that the proposal is contrary to the 1988 Company/Union Agreement.
Local level discussions took place but progress could not be made and the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference took place on 25th September, 1995. Following the conciliation conference the Irish Productivity Centre carried out a study of the work in the production area. The report was presented to the parties in February, 1996. The parties failed to agree on the findings of the report and a second conciliation conference took place on 7th May, 1996. As no agreement could be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 11th June, 1996 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 1st August, 1996.
3. 1. The Union will not accept compulsory redundancies. Clause 2 of the Company/Union Agreement of 1988 states that; "there shall be no involuntary redundancies at any time including and after the period referred to in Clause 1" (details supplied to the Court).
2. The voluntary package outlined in the direct input agreement of 1991 has not been offered to the workers. The direct imput agreement confirms management's commitment to the Union in relation to voluntary redundancy. In the circumstances the two workers have been unfairly and unreasonably selected for redundancy.
3. The Union is concerned that the production manager performs work which is proper to the workers concerned.
4. The setting-up of the Sunday Tribune was agreed with the IPU and NGA (GPMU) on the basis of 50/50 responsibility. The GPMU has co-operated in reducing costs over a long period of time, while intrusions into its area of work continues. The operation of the camera and scanning equipment is work proper to GPMU members and the Union insists on retaining this work. The Court is requested to recommend that the Company withdraws its redundancy proposals and confirms the workers right to remain in their jobs.
4. 1. There is not enough work to maintain the current levels of employment within the production department. This is supported by an independent report of work levels within the department.
2. Major restructuring has taken place in every department within the Company with the exception of the production department.
3. The Company must operate at a cost base which is competitive. Significant progress has been made in all areas except the pre-press area. This is an area where it lags significantly behind its competitors. The future of 100 jobs can only be secured if the paper becomes profitable.
4. The employees concerned will be treated fairly by being offered generous redundancy packages.
The Court has given serious consideration to the submissions of both parties and has an appreciation of the historical circumstances relating to this case. The Court is also mindful of the serious financial difficulties being experienced by the Company at this time.
Taking all the elements of the case into consideration the Court recommends as follows:-
- (1) That in order to deal with the immediate problem the parties meet to negotiate a redundancy package with the view of attracting one voluntary redundancy. If after two months the parties have failed to resolve this difficulty they are free to return to the Court for a definitive recommendation.
(2) That the parties (including the other union with members in the production area) meet to discuss technology developments and the changes necessary to take advantage of its benefits.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd August, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.