INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH TIMES LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Union membership agreement.
2. The question of union membership arose in 1994 in relation to staff who were secretaries to senior executives and whether they should continue to be members of a union. The Company/Union agreement, Clause 5, provides that all clerical staff become and remain members of the Union.
The Company claims that 2 members of staff who were secretaries to senior management ceased to be members of the Union for personal reasons. It claims that it cannot force any member of staff to join a union.
The Union claims that the members concerned were coerced into leaving the Union because they were secretaries to senior executives. There is a Company/Union agreement in relation to clerical staff and Union membership. The Company are in breach of that agreement.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Conciliation Service of the Labour Relations Commission. Conciliation conferences were held on the 4th of November, 1996 and the 6th of August, 1997 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 5th of December, 1997.
3. 1. The Company has the right to propose changes in the Agreement but only after consultation and agreement with the Union.
2. There has been a Company/Union agreement in operation for over twenty years concerning Union membership. This is the first occasion that it has not been adhered to.
3. If the Agreement is not fully adhered to it will be deemed by the Union that Management has terminated that Agreement. This will release the Union from any of its obligations under that Agreement.
4. Staff who have entered employment with the Company since 1978 and who work in any of the categories covered by the Agreement (Clause 5) must accept Union membership as an integral part of their contract.
4. 1. Management cannot compel any individual to join a Union against their will. The staff concerned left the Union of their own volition.
2. The Company does not accept that it is in breach of Clause 5 of Company/Union agreement.
3. Management did not encourage the individuals concerned to leave the Union.
4. The Company has been advised that to compel those concerned to become members of a Union would infringe on their constitutional rights.
The Court is satisfied that the terms of the agreement between the Union and the Company are quite clear in regard to Union membership, and both parties should strive to ensure that the terms are maintained. The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th December, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.