INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JAMES MC MAHON LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
BUILDING AND ALLIED TRADES' UNION
1. Change in work practices.
2. Treaty Handles is a long established business within James McMahon Limited. It is involved in the manufacture of agricultural and tool handles and was transferred to the Corcornee plant in Limerick in 1991.
In May, 1994, the woodcutting machinists in the Company were asked to fill out production sheets detailing the transfer of timber between the Company and Treaty Handles. The workers agreed to do so on a voluntary basis.
On 3rd July, 1995, management suspended one of the workers for 2 days for leaving his workplace following an accident. The worker did not advise the Company at the time that he was leaving. Following this incident the machinists decided to stop filling in the production sheets. Unofficial industrial action followed. Following a meeting with the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) a return to normal working was agreed. At present , the workers are still filling in the production sheets, 5 of them under protest.
The dispute was the subject of a number of conciliation conferences with the LRC, the final one being on 8th November, 1995. As no agreement was reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 2nd July, 1996, in Limerick.
3. 1. The workers agreed to fill in the production sheets on a voluntary basis. They are entitled to stop filling in the forms if they choose to do so. They were informed that the sole purpose of the exercise was to record the transfer of timber from one firm to another. However, during 1994/5 the records were used to imply that one of the machinists was not producing as much as he could. Recording of the transfer of the timber is a management function.
2. There have been a number of unfair incidents in recent years, including management rejecting the up-grading of junior helpers, and the worker being suspended following his accident at work. The workers are not seeking any compensation regarding the filling in of the production sheets.
4. 1. The filling out of production sheets is a standard operational requirement in the Company. It was already an established practice within Treaty Handles. The members' claim for additional money for completing the production sheets is cost increasing and precluded under Clause 6 of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW).
2. When the Company informed the Union that it was going to suspend the worker following his accident at work, the members threatened to stop filling in the production sheets. The Company withdrew the suspension but the members still refused to complete the production sheets. This was followed by unofficial industrial action. There is a Company/Union Agreement regarding grievance procedures which the Union ignored. The unofficial action was financially damaging to the Company.
Given the need at the present time for management and workers to co-operate with one another in the interests of ensuring companies survive and develop, and secure and sustainable employment is provided, the Court is seriously disturbed that an issue such as the filling of production sheets should give rise to a dispute.
It is clear to the Court that this issue is only a symptom of the lack of trust and the poor climate of relations which exist in the Company.
In the view of the Court, it is time both parties addressed this matter and made an earnest endeavour to put in place procedures and develop attitudes towards one another which will serve to improve and develop industrial relations generally.
In the event the parties find difficulty with this course, they should seek the assistance of the Advisory Service of the Labour Relations Commission or other such appropriate body that may be acceptable.
The Court finds that the filling of production sheets is the accepted norm in large number of companies throughout the Country. Accordingly, the Court considers the employees should complete the production sheets as at present, pending the outcome of the exercise referred to above.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th August, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.