INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Dispute concerning Company policy on selection for lay-off.
2. The Company repairs aircraft engine turbine components. It employs 270 workers. The dispute concerning approximately 160 workers relates to the policy to be adopted in relation to lay off. The Union maintains that in the event of lay-offs, selection should be based on seniority. The Company maintains that it has a right to retain workers on the basis of their essential skills and that seniority cannot be the primary criterion in selection for lay-off. Local discussions failed to resolve the issue and the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 10th March, 1994 but no agreement was possible. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 30th April 1996. A Court hearing was held in Cork on the 19th June, 1996.
3. 1. The question of seniority as the essential criterion to be used in the event of lay-off is a principle very strongly held by workers.
2. Management's attitude that it has the sole right to select workers and would have "no hesitation in selecting senior employees for lay-off" causes great concern to long serving workers who feel their employment is jeopardised. They have given very significant co-operation to the Company and played a major part in its success.
3. The Company attitude could cause major industrial relations problems if a situation arises where lay-off has to be implemented.
4. All workers within the plant are totally flexible and give maximum co-operation to the Company. If Management properly utilised Clause 12 of the Company/Union Agreement all employees would acquire skills enabling them to undertake all different operations in the plant.
5. Management's attitude to seniority is totally unacceptable and could lead to industrial unrest if implemented.
1. The Company's ability to compete is based on its efficient service and fast turntime at lowest cost levels. It is essential that adequate staffing is maintained. The Company is committed to maintaining a flexible workforce and to updating and crosstraining workers ensuring that competence is maintained. It fosters a wide customer base. The factors moderate the potential impact of business recession and lessen the prospect of lay-offs. However the Company cannot guarantee that lay-offs might not occur in the event of recession.
2. In the event of lay-off the retention of certain skills is essential. Management accepts that seniority remains an important criterion. It cannot become the sole determinant for selection. This would restrict the Company's ability to effectively resource available workers.
3. If lay-offs occur the Company will nominate particular workers affected. This information will be conveyed to the workforce and the Union which may place alternate proposals before Management. These will receive urgent and open consideration. The Company guarantees transparency in its decision making as it relates to lay-off. The Union would have a guaranteed resolution procedure in the event of its disputing any Company decision relating to lay-off.
The Court accepts that it is not practical or commercially viable to train all personnel in every aspect of the duties.
However, the fear of the employees that non-selection for training may, in the future, disadvantage some employees, needs to be addressed.
Equally the Company requirement to retain certain skills in the event of lay-off being required needs to be accommodated.
The Court therefore recommends:
(A) That in the event of lay-offs arising the Company commence discussions as early as possible.
(B) Where the same skills are shared by people then, L.I.F.O. should apply in selection for redundancy.
(C) Where the Company are not applying L.I.F.O. but requiring to retain key skills for the business, discussions should take place between the parties in line with (A) above. If agreement is not reached a third party to adjudicate immediately.
The Court is aware that the key to overcoming the employees' concerns is the training of individuals in various skills.
The Court notes the Company commitment to make every effort to accommodate individuals on this issue.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.