INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Final phase of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW).
2. The Company is engaged in the manufacture of bathroom scales and clocks for supply to the UK, France and other international markets. It employs approximately 150 workers at its location in Sligo. The Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ternaillon S.A. of France. The sale of the Company is currently being progressed in France.
In October, 1994 agreement was reached between the parties on a restructuring programme which provided for a pay freeze (1/3/94 - 28/2/96) and a provision that the final phase of the PCW would be the subject of a joint review subject to the economic and commercial circumstances than prevailing.
The Union sought the introduction of Phase 3 of the PCW with effect from 1st March, 1996. Local level discussions took place following which the Company put forward the following proposal:-
PCW Year 3
2.5% to be applied to all standard rates of pay from 1st July, 1996 and a
further 1% from 1st January, 1997.
The balance outstanding under the PESP contingency to be discharged
in full on 1st December, 1996. Any advances not previously discharged to
be written off in the current year.
The Company's proposal was subject to:-
(i) That all employees reaffirm their commitment to the implementation
of agreed changes as set out in the 1994 Agreement.
(ii) The agreed press shop standards to be implemented by 20th September, 1996. Bonus to be paid on an earned basis. Any technical question/clarification to be completed by 30th August, 1996.
(iii) Sub-assembly operators will move to the Company standard by 30th September, 1996 and bonus paid on results achieved.
(iv) Where operators are in dispute over agreed standards, all payment provision of this agreement to be deferred until compliance is forthcoming.
(v) A review of absenteeism control measures to be completed by 30th September, 1996 in the context of a new lates and absenteeism policy. This would also result in revised disciplinary arrangements.
The Company's proposal was unacceptable to the Union and the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on 22nd April, 1996. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 20th May, 1996 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 22nd September, 1996 (the first available date suitable to both parties).
3. 1. The Company's refusal to implement the final phase of the PCW is unacceptable to the Union. The workers have made a considerable contribution to the Company by their ongoing co-operation and commitment to the 1994 Agreement.
2. The Company should honour its responsibilities without seeking further concessions from the workers.
3. The Union is concerned at the lack of information forthcoming from management regarding the proposed sale of the Company. Management's attitude has affected the morale of the workers.
4. 1. The Company has experienced considerable business difficulties in recent years. It recorded substantial losses in 1995 and no improvement is envisaged for 1996.
2. The cost of raw materials has increased considerably whilst the selling price of the Company's products has fallen. The situation has been further compounded by the current uncertainty regarding the sale of the Company.
3. In the context of the 1994 Agreement the position regarding the final phase of the PCW was to be the subject of a joint review subject to the economic and commercial circumstances than prevailing. Given the current commercial and economic circumstances the Company is not in a position to apply the final phase.
The Court has given careful consideration to all aspects of this claim and the historical background to the non-implementation of previous phases of the PCW.
In all the circumstances the Court considers that the Company's offer of 24th July, 1996 is a reasonable response to the claim and should be accepted.
It was clear to the Court that the productivity in the Press Room was a contentious issue. The Court recommends that the Union members co-operate in achieving the new targets and the Union/Management review the operation after a period of 3 months.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st October, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.