INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
MONAGHAN MUSHROOMS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Dispute concerning Clause 3 of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (P.E.S.P.).
2. In 1994 a claim by the Union for payment of the 2nd and 3rd phases of PESP was the subject of a Labour Court investigation and recommendation (LCR14263 refers). The recommendation was rejected by the workforce and a strike resulted. It was resolved following an agreement negotiated under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission and the recommendation was accepted and implemented. The present dispute concerns the Union's claim for payment of Clause 3 of PESP. The Union maintains that its claim originated in 1992 and was resubmitted in 1995. Management contends that the settlement terms of the Labour Relations Commission's agreement of 1994 subsumed Clause 3. The Union rejected Management's claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and conciliation conferences were held in October and December 1995 and January 1996. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 16th February 1996. A Court hearing was held in Monaghan on the 11th July, 1996.
3. 1. At all times during discussions which led to the resolution of the dispute following the acceptance of LCR14263 the Union maintained that its claim for payment of Clause 3 had not been addressed by the Company. The settlement reached at the Labour Relations Commission in 1994 did not subsume the Union's claim in relation to Clause 3.
2. Since the Company was formed, the workers in various divisions have shown remarkable flexibility in the operation of the plant. There are vast variations from day to day in the throughput of product resulting in irregular hours of work and frequent lay-offs. Despite this irregularity and insecurity of employment the workers concerned have given full co-operation.
3. Major concessions were given to the Company following the dispute in 1994. During the course of the restructuring discussions which followed the dispute, further concessions were granted to the Company. The only payment received was arrears of the 2nd Phase of PESP. The current pay rates of the workforce are modest and do not compare favourably with other employments in the region. The payment of the Clause 3 increase will only redress the balance and bring workers pay into line with other food companies in the area, many of whom paid Clause 3 with little or no concessions.
4. In discussions in January 1995 on further restructuring the Company at no time gave any indication that it is willing to pay anything over and above National Wage increases for further concessions given by the workforce. The Company fails to recognise that savings achieved must be shared by the workforce.
5. The workers concerned deserve tangible recognition for their contribution to making the Company successful. It seeks the payment of the 3% increase under Clause 3 retrospective to 22nd February 1994, the date on which the bulk of concessions were made.
1. Clause 3 of the PESP was a central issue in negotiations leading to the strike in 1994. It was clear from the Union's correspondence that it rejected the idea of negotiating changes in work practices in return for Phase 2 of PESP (as per LCR14263), and that negotiations about changes in work practices would be considered in the context of Clause 3 of PESP. The proposed changes included, payment for overtime after 39 hours, change of payment system for Bank Holidays, elimination of 8 for 5 payments at week-ends.
2. The Company's restructuring programme was designed to protect its medium to long-term competitiveness by reducing labour costs. Management agreed to pay lump sum amounts rather than incur an on-going increase which would result from implementation of Clause 3. The Company understands that an alternative form of compensation was written into the Labour Relations Commission agreement of February, 1994.
3. In signing up to the Labour Relations Commission agreement the Company believed that the lump sum payments had replaced Clause 3 as the form of compensation for agreed changes in work practices. In August, 1994 the Company paid approximately £150,000 in compensation to workers for changes in work practices. The Company firmly believes that Clause 3 was subsumed into the Labour Relations Commission agreement of February 1994.
At the hearing it became apparent that there was a difference of opinion as to whether the issue of Clause 3, PESP was dealt with in the strike settlement terms arrived at by the Industrial Relations Officer at the Labour Relations Commission.
As a result of this disagreement the Court did not deal with the specific claim from the Union.
The Court having considered all the information before it is satisfied that Clause 3 PESP did not form part of the strike settlement.
The Court recommends that the parties now meet to deal with the issue.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.