INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SYNTHETIC PACKAGING LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Claim for increase in rate of pay and review of bonus scheme.
2. The Company is based in Clara Co. Offaly and is involved in the textile/sewing business. It employs approximately 170 people. The dispute concerns 4 fitters, 3 full-time who are responsible for the maintenance of the sewing machine units and a fourth temporary fitter who performs general maintenance.
The Company has introduced team working over the last 18 months. A bonus scheme was introduced 2 years ago. The 3 full-time fitters are paid a bonus based on the average performance of all the sewing units (6). The temporary fitter is paid the average of the cutting/sewing units. The basic pay for the workers is £216.00 per week and the bonus averages £36 per week. The Union wants the basic pay increased to £270 per week and the bonus increased from 21.8% to 30% for 101% performance, which would yield £66 per week.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 9th of September, 1997. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 26th of September, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 1st of December, 1997.
3. 1. The basic pay of £216.00 per week is the lowest of any company in the industry. A recent survey showed figures for craftworkers ranged from a basic pay of £280 to £305 per week. The electrical contracting joint industrial council wage is £359.23 per week. Two fitters and an electrician who left the Company in the last year cannot be replaced because the wages are so low.
2. A revised bonus scheme was introduced in November, 1996, without consultation of any kind with the craftworkers. Performance of 101% produces a bonus of £46.59 per week but benefits fall off dramatically after 101% is achieved. Production workers receive 30% of basic pay for 101% performance whereas craftworkers only achieve 21.8% for the same performance, although craftworkers contribute substantially to the overall plant performance. The number of sewing machines has increased from 80 in 1995 to 160 in 1997. All the machines have been adjusted by the craftworkers to perform at up to 40% above design capacity.
4. 1. The Company operates in an extremely competitive market. The Company introduced team working which involved a heavy investment in additional plant and sewing machines. Along with a weekly bonus of £49 and a store allowance of £6, the 4 fitters earn £271 per week. Overtime averages £91 per week, giving a total of £362 per week. A survey in November 1997, showed that the £271 earned by the fitters is greater than the average pay of a number of companies, which is £260.58 per week.
2. The claim is cost-increasing and is debarred under the terms of Partnership 2000. The Company sustained heavy financial losses in the year ending September, 1997. If the Company conceded the Union's claim it could lead to a number of subsequent claims from other areas within the plant, something the Company cannot afford.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties recommends as follows on the 2 issues in dispute:
1.Review of Bonus Scheme:
The Court is satisfied that the recent improvement in the bonus payment calculations by the Company is reasonable, in the absence of an agreed method of measuring the fitters' contribution.
However, the Court believe that a proper measuring mechanism should be agreed between the parties, if practical.
2.Pay Increase Claim:
It is the Court's view that this claim is in breach of the provisions of Partnership 2000 and, therefore, it cannot be considered.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th December, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.