INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
MARINE, PORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. (A) Relocation Compensation.
2. The Company is engaged in the wholesale distribution of pharmaceutical products and employs a workforce of 103. In October, 1995 the Company closed its depot in Finglas and transferred its operation to Stillorgan. The relocation was the subject of a Labour Court investigation and Labour Court Recommendation No. LCR14946 issued on the 24th October, 1995. In November, 1996 the Company purchased a new premises on the Belgard Road, Tallaght and informed staff that they would transfer from four separate Stillorgan locations in March/April, 1997. The Union is seeking compensation for the relocation on behalf of its members and is also seeking compensation on hardship grounds for three employees who, it states, could not cope with the move to the new location.
The issues in dispute were the subject of several meetings at local level, at which agreement could not be reached. The matter was referred to the conciliation service of the Labour Relations Commission and a conference was held on the 28th February, 1997. The parties agreed to refer the dispute to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. On the 8th March, 1997 the Union issued notice of strike action to take effect on the 27th March, 1997. A further conciliation conference was held on the 14th March, 1997 at which agreement could not be reached but the proposed strike action was deferred to the 4th April, 1997. The Labour Court investigated the dispute on the 24th March, 1997.
3. 1. The introduction of state of the art technology and computerised equipment was successful due to the co-operation, dedication and commitment of both full-time and part-time staff. Despite the short notice of relocation, the associated pressures and the additional support and co-operation required of the employees, they have continued to give their absolute commitment and loyalty to the Company.
2. LCR14946 recommended payments of £1,500 to telesales staff, £600 to drivers and £700 to spare drivers. A voluntary redundancy package was also available. Part-time workers will face the same escalating travel costs as their full-time colleagues and are therefore entitled to the same compensation. The full terms of LCR14946 must apply in all circumstances without qualification.
3. The Company has failed to detail the distinction between the last relocation and the present one. The three employees for whom the transfer would create exceptional hardship should be treated no less favourably than their colleagues in Finglas who received redundancy terms of 4 weeks' pay per year of service plus statutory entitlement.
4. 1. The Company rejects the Union's claim that the present relocation is similar to the previous one from Finglas to Stillorgan and that the terms of LCR14946 should therefore be applied. The Finglas depot was closed as it had not been viable and to do otherwise would have jeopardised the future of the Company. On this occasion the move is for operational and logistical reasons.
2. The Company has estimated that 52 people will be inconvenienced by the move, 16 people will experience no difference and 35 people will be closer to work. Payment of compensation as claimed by the Union would place a dangerous financial strain on the Company.
3. Unlike the previous occasion a redundancy situation does not exist as all employees are needed for the move. The three employees referred to by the Union are key employees and if they leave the Company's employ they must be replaced immediately. The Company is prepared, however, to be flexible with regard to working hours.
4. The Company is prepared to pay realistic compensation for the relocation. A payment of £425 plus a three-month commuter ticket for all full-time administration staff and payment of £175 to drivers and those with company transport is available. In the case of part-time staff who may only work two or three days per week payment of compensation would be made on a pro-rata basis.
The Court has considered all of the views expressed by the parties in their oral and written submissions.
The Court finds that the circumstances in this case are different to those which obtained in the previous relocation of staff. Accordingly, the Court in the present circumstances makes the following recommendations:-
1. That staff employed over a period of five days per week be paid a lump sum of £650 plus a three month commuter ticket.
2. That in the case of staff working less than five days payment be made on a pro-rata basis.
3. That drivers and those with Company transport be paid a lump sum of £250.
4. That all staff should transfer but in the case of the three employees with certain difficulties the Company should make the following arrangements:-
(a) Recognising these employees are critical to the efficient operation of the Company, they should be accommodated on transfer and such flexibilities made as will meet their requirements.
(b) The situation should be monitored and if the arrangements are not proving satisfactory, arrangements should be made to train replacement employees.
(c) In the interim, the Company and the Union should discuss and seek to agree compensation terms specific to the three people involved in the event that they cannot continue long-term in the new location.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.