INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
WILLIAM CONNOLLY & SONS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Dispute concerning improvement of the Company's sick pay scheme.
2. The Company manufactures high quality animal feedstuffs mostly for the Irish market. It employs 104 workers. In March 1995 the Union submitted a claim for improvement in the terms of the sick pay scheme. The present scheme provides for a weekly payment of £6 for 18 weeks, subject to the provision of a medical certificate. There is an employee contribution of 10 pence per week and the employer contributes 20p per week. The Union claims that the scheme should provide a weekly payment of £50 per week. Employee contribution should be £1 per week with a comparable increase in the employer's contribution rate. The Company rejected the claim.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 1st February 1996. No agreement was possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 4th April 1996. A Court hearing was held in Kilkenny on the 18th June 1996.
3. 1. The present scheme which was established in 1974 is totally inadequate and provides only the minimum cover. It does not compare favourably with sick pay schemes in competitor companies within the industry. The Union has sought on numerous occasions over the past number of years to have the scheme improved.
2. The scheme is the minimum required under the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for the Provender Milling Industry. It is unfair to expect workers to wait for JLC improvements as the JLC sets only the legal minimum standard.
3. It is reasonable for the Union to seek an improvement in the sick pay scheme under Clause 4 of the P.C.W.
4. The Company is very profitable and can afford to pay the increased cost of improving the scheme.
1. The Company is operating in a very competitive industry. It is competing against some of the largest companies in the state. The Company's products are already considerably more expensive than their competitors. Any cost increases at this stage would further adversely impact upon unit costs and render the Company even less competitive.
2. The Company's Sick Pay Scheme is precisely that provided for by the Provender Milling JLC. This scheme is industry wide. The Company has indicated that the appropriate place for the Union to pursue a claim for enhancement of the Sick Pay Scheme is at the level of the JLC. This would at least ensure that the Company would not be placed at a further competitive disadvantage.
3. The PCW provides that "unions are not precluded" from making claims for the introduction of Sick Pay Schemes "where none exists" or from making claims for "the improvement of such schemes where there are substantially out of line with appropriate standards in comparable employments". The Company's Sick Pay Scheme is not out of line with comparable employments.
Having considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties the Court does not find that the Company's Sick Pay Scheme is substantially out of line with appropriate standards in comparable employments, as required under the P.C.W. The Court therefore rejects the claim.
However, the Court notes the Company's acceptance that the scheme requires to be reviewed and would therefore recommend that the parties get together to agree how best to progress this issue.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.