INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH SUGAR PLC
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Claim by the Union for enhanced wage payments.
2. The dispute concerns 70 permanent and 80 seasonal workers who are employed as general operatives at the Company's Mallow plant. The Union claims that the workers concerned have afforded significant changes to the Company in recent years by way of agreeing to redundancies, and changes in work practices. The Union claimed lump sum payments of £3,500 per worker. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 4th July, 1996. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 31st July 1996. A Court hearing was held on the 16th September, 1996.
3. 1. Since early 1995 workers have agreed to implement significant changes including job reductions, team working, use of contractors, new maintenance systems, and work flexibility/co-operation. Most of these changes have been achieved. In return for these concessions the Company promised to put in place a new method of payment which would provide significant benefits to workers. The Company has not done so.
2. Partly as a result of the new measures being operated, workers' earnings in the off-season have been reduced. The Company has secured considerable savings in maintenance and labour costs resulting from the reduction in the number of permanent jobs and the operation of new systems and work practices.
3. The Union's claim can best be met by the payment of lump sum payments pending the finalisation of an agreement on annualised hours or some other alternative. The precedent already exists within the Company for lump sum payments in respect of changes in work practices.
4. 1. In recent years Management sought a number of redundancies which were achieved on a voluntary basis. The cost to the Company was considerable. As a result of the redundancies many promotions became available which benefited the workforce.
2. General operatives are graded and paid according to their duties during the processing season. Manning levels during the season have not changed significantly over the years.
3. There have been organisational changes at management level to provide greater focus on factory operations. These have not impacted on the day to day duties of general workers or on their conditions of employment.
4. The Company seeks agreement on its proposed annualised hours system which will provide significant benefits to workers. To date, the Union has not entered into meaningful discussions on the Company's proposals.
5. The Company has honoured all its commitments under the PESP and PCW.
6. Concession of the claim would have major repercussions throughout the Company.
1. The Court has fully considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their oral and written submissions. The Court considers that the most appropriate approach to dealing with the claim of the union is through the negotiations on annualised hours.
2. Accordingly the Court would recommend that the Company and the Union negotiate the introduction of annualised hours in Mallow.
3. Recognising that the negotiation of annualised hours may be held on a national basis the Court recommends that any agreement made under paragraph 2 above should be reviewed in the light of the national negotiations.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st October, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.