INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
WESSEL ENERGY CABLES
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Company proposal to subcontract work.
2. The Company is employed in the manufacture and distribution of energy cables for export. There are currently 2 wood machinists involved in the repair of timber spools (drums) which the cable is coiled around. The drums are returned to the Company by customers and, when necessary, repaired for re-use. In mid 1997, a U.K. company called CDR offered to repair the drums in the U.K. and also supply new drums. As a result, the Company only now needs 1 wood machinist in its Finglas drum shop.
The dispute concerns the proposed contracting-out of the repair of the drums and the consequential re-deployment of 1 wood machinist.
On the 20th of August, the Company informed the Union that it would be taking in repaired drums on a month's trial. The Union was not agreeable to this and the Company stopped bringing in the repaired drums. During negotiations, 2 options were proposed for the worker who was to be re-deployed:
(A) Transfer to a single shift day-job personal to the holder in the dispatch area
(B) A redundancy settlement package of £48,000 to be made available if option (A) is not acceptable
The offer was rejected by the wood machinists.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 10th of November, 1997. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 25th of November, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th of December, 1997.
3. 1. Contracting out is normally negotiated as a specific productivity/flexibility measure and is provided for in a company/union agreement. Clause 11 in the 1991 agreement deals with changes in work practices but does not provide a facility for contracting-out. If the Company was to impose a change in the agreement without consultation it would have far reaching implications.
2. The 2 workers concerned have been employed as wood machinists for 29 years and 34 years respectively. Re-deployment for them would result in a loss of status and profound re-adjustment. Alternative employment cannot be regarded as suitable.
4. 1. The Company is involved in a very competitive business. It must do everything it can to minimise costs. The new arrangement with the U.K. company CDR) will make for a more efficient operation. The Company has tried to minimise the effect on the 2 workers concerned. Nobody is being made redundant. The worker who does move will be working a day job, not shift work. The Company has contracted out work in the past.
The Court is of the view that resolution of this issue has not been helped by the lack of consultation and information exchange.
As the parties have indicated that it has been possible in the past to reach agreement on change issues, the Court recommends that they commence discussions immediately on Company proposals. These discussions to be completed by the 23rd of January, 1998. If the parties fail to reach agreement the Court will, on request, make a definitive Recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd December, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.