INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
KERRY FASHIONS (TEXTILES) LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. (1) 39 Hour Week, (2) Pay Increase, (3) Pension/Sick Pay Scheme.
2. The Company is involved in the manufacture of sweaters, knitwear, cotton and linen mixes. The dispute concerns the Union's claim that the Company has failed to honour the Company/Union agreement of December, 1994. The agreement involved a pay pause from 1st November, 1994 to 27th February, 1996, a temporary pay reduction and the suspension of the 39-hour week from 1st January, 1995 to 31st October, 1996. The Union is now seeking the following:-
A. First and Second Phase PCW to be paid effective 1st March, 1996.
B. Third Phase PCW to be paid from 1st November, 1996 with 2.5% for the
first three months and 1% for the second three months.
C. Phase 1 of Partnership 2000 to apply as and from 1st May, 1997.
The 39 hour week be implemented in accordance with the agreement of December,
1994. The Union is also seeking negotiation on the re-introduction of a sick pay scheme and the introduction of a pension scheme.
The Company has had financial difficulties over a number of years and is pleading an inability to honour the agreement at present.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 21st November, 1996. As the parties did not reach agreement the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 6th December, 1994 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 30th July, 1997, in Tralee.
3. 1. The agreement of December, 1994 was part of an overall arrangement under the 1963 Companies Act and was lodged in the High Court as an agreement. In March, 1996, the chairman of the Company confirmed the commitment of the Company to the agreement.
2. Since 1990, the workers have suffered from pay reductions and extended layoffs at the beginning and end of each year. To date, in 1997, there has been a lay-off of 5 months. During all this time, the workers have co-operated fully with management. The Company's position has improved of late and it is now trading successfully. The Company should honour the agreement of 1994.
4. 1. The Company has had severe financial difficulties over the years. An audit in 1994 revealed an operating loss of £1.8 million. Despite the measures taken under the Company/Union agreement of 1994, the Company continued to suffer financial losses. The plant closed temporarily in early 1996 and re-opened following investment of £1 million. This investment has only succeeded in keeping the Company afloat on a day to day basis. It is still not trading profitably.
2. The Union is aware of the Company's financial situation (details supplied to the Court). The Company is involved in a very competitive industry. If it is to remain viable, the Company cannot spend investment funds on increasing labour costs as per the Union's claim. If it did concede the claim it would result in the closure of the Company.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, the Court has concluded that in the light of
(a) the financial position of the Company
(b) the effect of implementing the Company/Union Agreement reached as part of the 1994 High Court proceedings
it would be imprudent of the Court to recommend implementation of the Agreement at this time.
The Court, accordingly, recommends that before the end of the current financial year i.e., 28th February, 1998, the parties meet to discuss the situation and explore how the Agreement can be implemented without causing terminal damage to the Company.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th August, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.