INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. (i) Loss of earnings arising from the introduction of shift work, (ii) Introduction of new bonus scheme.
2. The Company is involved in the supply of pre-mixes to animal feed manufacturers. It employs 35 people at its plant in Tallaght and has two other manufacturing locations in Ireland.
The dispute before the Court concerns the method used for the purpose of calculating loss of earnings arising from the introduction of shift work in January, 1996 and the Company's proposal for the introduction of a new bonus scheme.
Local level discussions failed to resolve the issues and the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference took place on the 6th June, 1997. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 24th June, 1997 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th August, 1997.
LOSS OF EARNINGS
In January, 1996 agreement was reached for the introduction of two shift working. The agreement provided for the payment of compensation at three times the value of any loss of earnings arising at the end of year 1 of the operation of the shift pattern. In calculating the arrears the Company based its figures on pay increases awarded to two individuals on foot of promotion and on overtime opportunities refused by individuals reducing the loss accordingly.
3. 1. An average of £491 per person was added to the gross earning for the year ending 15th January, 1997 in respect of alleged refusal of overtime. Overtime has been refused for genuine reasons over many years and management has always accepted this position. The logging of overtime refusals during 1996 was not part of any agreement with the Company. This figure should not have been introduced and should not be included in the gross pay for the year ending 15th January, 1997.
2. Two of the nine operatives concerned were promoted to supervisor in 1996. The salary increases received on promotion should not be part of the calculation of their loss of earnings. The two workers co-operated fully with the new working system and were given the expectation that they would receive compensation at three times the annual loss. Under management's proposals these workers would not receive any compensation.
4. 1. The Company cannot accept that pay increases which are paid to supervisory staff on an ongoing basis should be excluded from the assessment of loss of earnings. These increases are part of the workers' terms and conditions of employment and will continue to be paid in the future.
2. Certain employees deliberately refused overtime opportunities in order to artificially inflate their loss of earnings figures.
3. An assessment of the overtime refused by workers over the last three years shows that only a minority of employees refused more overtime in the assessment year than in previous years.
4. The Company is being asked to compensate for loss which occurred through no action or fault of management.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW BONUS SCHEME
The Company has proposed the introduction of a new bonus scheme to replace the existing scheme which has been in operation for approximately four years. The proposed scheme which is efficiency based was devised with the assistance of consultants. The Union argues that the new scheme will result in a loss of bonus earnings to the workers concerned.
5. 1. The Union is seeking that management carry out an exercise whereby the yield from the present bonus scheme would be compared with that of the new proposals. This exercise to be carried out on the basis of the production over a one year period. The Union is confident that this exercise would confirm the Union's view that the workers will lose money under the new scheme.
2. Nutec is the leading supplier of animal nutrients to the Irish agricultural market. Its production has increased steadily in recent years. In the circumstances it is unacceptable that the workers are requested to operate a new bonus scheme which will result in a loss of earnings.
6. 1. The basis of the proposed scheme has never been questioned. It has been accepted that the time study and work measurement techniques used by the industrial engineer in designing the scheme are accurate and fair.
2. The Company does not consider that employees will lose earnings under the new bonus scheme. There is potential to match, if not improve earnings once performance levels are maintained.
Having considered the submissions from the parties the Court recommends as follows on the items in dispute.
(i)Loss of earnings
(a)Supervisors- The increase in wages associated with their promotion to supervisors should not be taken into account when calculating compensation.
(b)Overtime- The two employees designated as E & H in the table at Appendix 4 of the Company's submission should be penalised as proposed and the remaining employees should not suffer any penalty.
(ii)Bonus SchemeThe Union agree to work the new scheme for a trial period of three months when the impact on earnings can be quantified. If necessary the assistance of the ICTU expert should be called upon.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th August, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.