INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
ABS PUMPS LTD.
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Appeal, by the Union, of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. DC104/95.
2. The Company manufactures pumps and has been based in Wexford since 1973 and currently employs a workforce of 314. The dispute relates to the application of a pay differential to "Setter Chargehands" and concerns 6 workers. The Union claimed that the differential which existed between Setter Chargehands ( who had been paid the setters' rate, including a differential above other shop floor rates, plus the chargehand differential) and other Chargehands had become eroded. The Union claimed that the Company had been applying a system whereby the Setter Chargehand rate was converging with that of the general Chargehand. The Company's position was that the rate paid to Setter Chargehands was a consolidated rate which was not the sum of other differentials. The dispute was the subject of an investigation by a Rights Commissioner who accepted the Company's view that concession of the claim would have knock-on effects. In recognising the minimal erosion of differential referred to, he recommended that each of the claimants be paid an ex-gratia lump of £250 nett. The Union appealed the Recommendation, on the 25th of November, 1995, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal, in Wexford, on the 25th of June, 1996.
3. 1. Chargehands who were appointed over setters would have already had the Setters' pay rate and would additionally have received the chargehand differential. Setters enjoy a differential over other shop floor employees, and the Setter Chargehand's rate comprised setters' basic pay plus Chargehand differential (details supplied to the Court).
2. In the past, the Chargehands were paid different rates, but subsequently all non-setter Chargehands were converged onto one rate. Now there are only 2 rates, i.e., Chargehand and Setter Chargehand. This establishes a relativity based on the fact that setter chargehands are, firstly, setters who enjoyed an established differential.
3. The current situation as it has evolved will see the erosion of the Setter Chargehand. If setters enjoy a differential over shop floor employees (£23.18), then Setter Chargehands should enjoy a similar differential over Chargehands. This would provide a formula which would prevent erosion and could not affect any other relativity as it is based on existing accepted relativity on the shop floor.
4. 1. All rates of pay have been negotiated and agreed between the Company and the Union and have been duly applied by the Company.
2. The records show that as far back as 1979 the rate applied to Setter Chargehand was a consolidated rate which was not the sum of the setter and Chargehand differentials.
3. Historically, there have been two types of influence on rates of pay, i.e., global percentage increases applied to all rates, such as national wage agreements, and negotiated lump sum increases consolidated to specific grades (details supplied). All such increases have been negotiated and agreed.
4. Given the criteria of centralised wage negotiations obtaining for all categories of workers in the Company, any singular increase in the rate of pay for one group would create a major spectre of precedent for others.
In all the circumstances of the case the Court is satisfied that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is not unreasonable and should be upheld.
The Court, accordingly, rejects the appeal and so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.