INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
TYTEX IRELAND LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. (1) Compensation, (2) Apology, (3) Deduction of Wages.
2. The dispute concerns the discovery of hidden security cameras at the Company's Youghal location. There are approximately 100 workers involved. The Company manufactures health care products and is part of the Danish owned Tytex Group.
On 5th March, 1997, what appeared to be a concealed video camera was discovered in a wall clock in a canteen. At a meeting on 6th March, the Union confronted management and asked to know what the camera was for. It emerged that there were 8 cameras, 1 in each canteen, 5 on the factory floor and 1 in the car park and that they had been installed 2 years previously. The Union's main concern was the secret manner in which the cameras had been installed. It outlined the considerable anger of the workers who regarded the Company as spying on them. The Company's position is that it installed the cameras because of ongoing theft of Company property. It alleges that the theft began during construction work to expand the factory in 1994.
The Union is seeking an apology from the Company and monetary compensation, as yet unspecified. On 7th March, when knowledge of the cameras became widespread, the members stopped work for 2 hours. The Company intends to deduct 2 hours' pay from each worker but the Union maintains that, because of the circumstances, this should not happen. The Company maintains that there are no grounds for an apology or compensation. The Union is also seeking that 2 tapes from the cameras be destroyed.
Following a ballot, the workers had voted in favour of strike action but agreed to defer it whilst awaiting the outcome of the Labour Court hearing on 8th April, 1997. In early April the Company issued redundancy notice to 13 temporary workers which, the Union claims, is related to the dispute. The Company denies the claim
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on 20th March, 1997. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 25th March, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 8th April, 1997 in Waterford.
3. 1. The Managing Director of the Company initially denied knowing what the cameras were. The Company claims that the cameras were pointed at doors and windows so that any theft of property could be filmed. This is not true. The cameras in the canteen were pointed directly at the dining area. The Company was, in effect, spying on the workforce. One camera was located in a small tea room which a number of female workers had used as a changing room. This is a gross invasion of privacy.
2. The Company has stated publicly that the reason for the cameras was because of widespread theft of Company property. There is no evidence to support these claims. The Union has no objection to the Company's use of surveillance cameras provided that the workforce is informed beforehand. What happened in this case is a breach of normal industrial relations.
4. 1. During construction work in 1994, problems emerged with theft on the construction site and in the factory itself. As a result, the Company decided to install the security cameras which gave rise to the dispute. The type of system used was based on professional advise.
2. The dispute generated a lot of media attention. A number of interviews with union officials have given a bad impression to the wrokforce and the public as to the facts of the case. It was never the Company's intention to spy on the workers. There has been a number of security problems on site which justified the use of the cameras (details supplied to the Court). The workers were told of these problems at a number of staff meetings. The cameras are only focused on doors, windows or passageways. The Company has offered to change to an open camera system provided it will not be interfered with. The threatened strike has had a detrimental effect on a project which would have resulted in increased employment in Youghal. The 13 workers issued with redundancy notices were employed on a temporary basis. They, and the Union, were informed that if there was no further investment in the Company they would be let go.
The Court finds, given the efforts being made to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of industry generally, and the exhortations to the social partners to establish partnerships to this end, that the actions of the Company in installing a security system, particularly of the type indicated, without consultation, was not acceptable and was detrimental to the maintenance or development of a climate of good industrial relations.
The Court also finds that, notwithstanding the provocation the action of management caused, the dispute should have been resolved through the normal industrial relations procedures.
The Court recommends that the parties discuss the Company requirements in respect of security and the Company accept that their action should not have been taken, and they should agree to pay to a charity, nominated by the Union, the sum of £3,000.
The Court further recommends that the parties should avail of the Advisory Services of the Labour Relations Commission in an endeavour to improve the relations between the parties, including industrial relations.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th April, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.