INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DUBARRY SHOES LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Modular Working, Extension of Measured Time Management (MTM), Agreement on World Class Manufacturing (WCM) including sick pay scheme, long term illness severance scheme and other issues.
2. The Company is involved in the manufacture of shoes at its plant in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. It employs approximately 215 people.
In 1995 a restructuring programme was undertaken following a Union/Company agreement. The parties agreed that an approach be made to Forbairt for assistance on new production methods and techniques. Both sides agreed that investment and change were required if the Company's manufacturing activities were to survive.
Both Forbairt and Fás were consulted in relation to new production methods, which in 1996 led to a pilot scheme of modular working in the "Closing Room". Modular Manufacturing is a more modern method of organising work. Two pilot groups each consisting of 5 employees were formed. All activities in the group were to operate on a group basis and work measurement to be done through the use of video cameras. The time measurement system used in the groups is known as Measured Time Management (MTM). It was the Company's intention to introduce further modules throughout the factory.
Two major items of contention at the time under the MTM system, were the allowances which were to be built into the system and the protection of earnings formula to cover a lead-in period. The 1996 agreement provided for the following allowances:-
(a) A figure of 13% to cover contingency and relaxation elements.
(b) A figure of 2.5% to allow for the requirement for personal skills enhancement of an on-going nature and its impact on team performance.
During the lead-in period it emerged that the above allowances were not sufficient to maintain earnings and it was agreed that an additional 5% would be added in. Both sides have different views as to the status of this 5%; whether it was permanent or temporary. Following local negotiations it was reduced to 3% in October, 1996.
The Union is seeking a number of claims as follows:-
(1) Sick Leave Claim:
The Union wants the introduction of a sick leave scheme for manufacturing staff similar to that which currently operates for Managerial, Supervisory and Administrative staff. The Company rejected this claim.
(2) Facilities for Trade Union Representatives:
The Company operates a very restrictive system of paid time-off for voluntary officials and wants the Company to modernise its approach in this area. The 1993 Code of Practice titled "Duties and Responsibilities of Employee Representatives" and the protection and facilities to be afforded them by their employer should be implemented. Management agreed to have further discussions with the Union on this matter.
(3) Long Term Illness Claim:
The Union is seeking the introduction of Long Term Illness Severance Payments and for consideration to be given to the provision of Added Years where a person is obliged to retire on grounds of ill health. The Company was not prepared to countenance the Union's claim.
(4) Individual Claim:
The Union wants the regrading of an individual through the introduction of a new grade of Senior Industrial Engineer. The Company rejected the claim and stated that it was precluded under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) and Partnership 2000.
(5) World Class Manufacturing (WCM) Claim:
The Union is seeking the introduction of WCM incorporating all aspects of the modular production pilot scheme. The scheme would operate as follows:- Abolition of the New Rates; Gainsharing; Guiding Principles - Feasibility, Commitment to Development Investment; Implementation and Consultation Procedures; Information Sharing; Job Security; Joint Structure/Communications; Modular Production; Pension Review; Protection of Earnings; Safety and Health; Training - Team Development. The Company stated that it would require more details in writing from the Union before it could respond to this claim. At present there is disagreement between both sides as to what was agreed to during negotiations in 1996.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Conciliation Service of the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 10th February, 1997 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 18th March, 1997.
3. 1. In 1995 the Union put forward a "Proposal Document" for a partnership approach which had as its objective the provision of secure jobs, at reasonable rates of pay, and an adequate return on capital for its shareholders.
2. The Union is opposed to any changes by management in the working conditions of employees which have not been agreed to.
3. The Union wants the introduction of a sick leave scheme and a long term illness scheme as provided for under the terms of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) and Partnership 2000.
4. The Company should provide proper facilities for worker representatives in line with modern practice.
4. 1. The numbers employed in Ireland in the production of footwear has declined dramatically from 4891 to 460. Approximately 95% of footwear is now imported into the country.
2. The Company operates in a very competitive market and must keep its costs at an acceptable level.
3. The Company has suffered serious financial losses over the past number of years. This trend cannot continue.
4. The shoe industry in Ireland is one of the most depressed industries. The Company pays its operatives rates which are in excess of those paid in local industries.
5. The Company cannot afford to implement a sick pay scheme or a long term illness scheme because of financial constraints.
It would appear to be agreed by the parties that the Modular MTM system is the way forward for the Company given its financial and competitive position.
The Court concurs with this view. However, there is a major disagreement as to the basis of extending this arrangement within the Company, the Management believing they had an agreement to go forward and the Union believing negotiations on the conditions to apply must first take place between the parties.
Given the disagreements that exist on a number of issues, and as no real discussions have taken place, it is the Court's view that discussion on all of the issues should commence immediately in order to see if an agreement can be reached.
These discussions to be completed within 4 weeks from the date of issue of this Recommendation. If the parties fail to reach agreement the Court will on request make a Recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd April, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.