INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Kiln productivity agreement.
2. A productivity agreement for the repair of the two kilns at the Drogheda plant was put in place in 1975 and was updated in 1980. The dispute concerns payment for repairs carried out to kiln 2 between 6th and 11th March, 1996. Part of the agreement in relation to kiln 2 provides for the following payments:-
"Where the length of brick lining installed is less than 17 metres, emergency shift premiums will be paid for a period of 8 shifts.
Where the length ..... exceeds 17 metres and is less than 40 metres, emergency shift premiums will be paid for a period of 17 shifts .......".
The Company claims that the length of brick installed was 16.6 metres, exclusive of some patchwork and repairs to a cooler. The workers were paid between £39.88 and £50.75, which was based on an 8-day deal. The workers claimed that a total of 19.5 metres of re-bricking was carried out and that, therefore, payment of £616.00 per person, based on a 17-day deal, should have been paid by the Company.
Workers refused to carry out further repairs on 21st March, 1996 and unofficial industrial action followed for a period of one week. The workers concerned were dismissed because of their failure to adhere to the Company/Union agreement, but were re-instated following the Unions' instructions to work normally. At local negotiations the Company offered an additional payment of £120.00 per person, which was refused by the workers. The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference on 2nd April, 1996 under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement could not be reached. It was agreed to refer the dispute to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing was held on 2nd July, 1996.
3. 1. The productivity agreement provides for the payment of a 17-day deal where repairs exceed 17 metres in length. The agreement does not mention patches specifically, but the total length of brickwork repaired. On this occasion, a total of 19.5 metres of re-bricking was completed.
2. On previous occasions all brickwork, inclusive of patchwork and cooler repairs, was calculated to determine the renumeration due. This is the first occasion that the inclusion of patchwork and cooler repairs has brought the payment due into a higher range.
4. 1. On three occasions in the past two years, repairs of 15m, 15.8m and 14.8m of brick were installed, in addition to patchwork and cooler repairs. Payment was made based on the linear measurement being less than 17 metres. If the deal calculation had ever included patchwork or cooler repairs, a system of converting the amount of brick used into an equivalent linear length would be in use.
2. The application of the deal is consistent with previous practice over the past 16 years. It has worked to the financial advantage of the bricking crews as "the clock stops" when the main circumferential bricking is complete. Additional patchwork is excluded from the time measurement, thereby generating a larger bonus.
3. The calculation of bonus has always been based on the linear measurement of repairs. In light of the current dispute, it may be advisable to revise the current agreement to address the issues of patchwork and cooler repairs.
In the first instance the Court wishes to express its concern that an unofficial stoppage lasting one week took place on this issue. Both sides agree that a procedural agreement for dealing with disputes is in existence and the Court fails to understand why the workers concerned did not invoke its terms.
On the issue before it, and taking into account the difficulty in establishing past practices, the Court recommends that the Company agree to pay the amount claimed by the Union.
The Court further recommends that, in order to avoid a recurrence of this type of dispute, the parties negotiate a revision of the existing agreement for the purpose of clarifying the terminology.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.