INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
YVES ROCHER (IRELAND) LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation DC316/95.
2. The dispute concerns a claim for compensation for loss of earnings on behalf of five workers in the Extracts Department. The Union claims that the introduction of shiftwork in January, 1992, resulted in a substantial reduction in overtime earnings for the workers concerned. The Company contends that the overtime level had already reduced in 1991 and that there is no direct link between the introduction of shiftwork and the reduction in overtime.
The claim was referred to a Rights Commissioner and an investigation was held on 1st February, 1996. The Rights Commissioner issued his findings and recommendation on 22nd March, 1996, as follows:-
"Subsequent to the hearing the Company submitted a copy of a shift
flexibility agreement which provided for payment of compensation for
loss of shift on an agreed formula for the years 1991 to 1993 inclusive
and, in subsequent correspondence with SIPTU, the Union
acknowledged this agreement was valid.
On the basis of the statistics provided, the claimants did not work any
shift at all in 1991 but did so in the subsequent 3 years, and, given that
the provisions of the aforementioned agreement are simply dormant, I
recommend the following as a settlement of this dispute:-
- (a) The terms of the shift flexibility agreement of 20th
September, 1994 be applied to calculate compensatory
payments to the claimants for the years 1992, 1993 and 1994, and that they be duly paid appropriate compensation on the basis of that 3 year criteria.
(b) This recommendation is entirely without prejudice and framed to deal with the exceptional circumstances of the claimants' case and not to be used or regarded a precedent for the future."
3. 1. The workers concerned have facilitated the Company by working a variety of hours over the past few years. They have moved from day work to shift work to day work again at the Company's request. They agreed to work shift hours on the understanding that any losses incurred would be dealt with in a positive manner by the Company.
2. The flexibility agreement recommended by the Rights Commissioner was agreed for the Creams and Warehouse Section and does not apply to the Extracts Department, as each department negotiates separately.
3. The Company accepts that workers have incurred losses due to the reduction in overtime and at a meeting in August, 1994, agreed to look at the situation. Similar claims for loss of earnings have resulted in lump sum payments of 1.5 or twice the annual loss.
4. 1. The unusually high level of overtime in 1990 was influenced by a number of factors including delivery times to customers in Europe, volume activity and cover for absenteeism. The overtime in 1990 was excessive and created cost ineffectiveness. The same level of overtime was not required in 1991 and subsequent years.
2. Overtime was never guaranteed and has always been rostered and variable. One year of high overtime earnings does not constitute a norm and, therefore, invalidates any claim for compensation based on the concept of permanent loss.
3. A schedule of overtime hours from 1989 to 1992 (details supplied to the Court) clearly demonstrates that the level of overtime reduced significantly in 1991. There is, therefore, no link between the lower overtime level and the introduction of shiftwork in 1992.
Having studied the submissions, the Court has concluded that the Rights Commissioner's recommendation is not unreasonable in the circumstances and should be accepted.
The Court, accordingly, upholds the recommendation, rejects the appeal and so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th September, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.