INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Dispute concerning the upgrading of 9 workers.
2. The Company specialises in precision injection moulding and the sub-assembly of products for the consumer electronics market. It employs in excess of 250 workers on a graded pay structure. The Union's claim is for the upgrading of the 9 workers who are employed in the Quality Control Section as Quality Control Service Operators (Q.C.S.O.). The workers are currently paid a 20% differential above the basic grade. The Union's claim is made on the basis of the workers' increased responsibilities and skills, together with a significantly increased workload and the introduction of ISO 9000. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 14th October, 1996. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 30th October, 1996. A Court hearing was held on the 16th December, 1996.
3. 1. Because of the increased duties and responsibilities of the workers concerned the Union is seeking an increase of 5% for 6 workers on day and two-shift and an increase of 10% for 3 operators on the moulding shift. The existing differential paid does not reflect the level of responsibility between various grades. For a considerable time the Union has sought an examination of the current job specification and duties of the claimants.
2. Following Management's rejection of the claim the Union requested that an evaluation exercise be carried out by the Union's Industrial Engineer. While the Company supplied job descriptions, it rejected the request that the Industrial Engineer be allowed visit the plant. A request for the involvement of the IPC was also rejected. The Company's refusal to allow an independent evaluation is contrary to good industrial relations practice.
3. The claim is not precluded by the P.C.W. If the job content, skill level or responsibility of workers is increased, the Union believes that it is legitimate to seek an increase. The claim for upgrading is being made in the context of an already existing pay scale and additional increases outside that structure are not being sought.
4. 1. From the mid 1980's, the Company experienced major problems with customers culminating in 1991 when the Company lost almost 20% of its business. A major problem was poor quality. To reverse this trend Munekata Total Production System (MTPS) was introduced. The grading structure agreed with the Union in 1991 was derived from the introduction of MTPS. Quality control service operators got a 5% increase in respect of significant changes envisaged in the long term. The quality control function has not changed significantly since the introduction of MTPS. The Company is only recently gaining from MTPS while it paid for this in 1991.
2. Management cannot accept that there has been any significant change in the type or degree of responsibility attached to the work of the quality-control service operators. The work has not increased but a redistribution of work has occurred with the Quality Control Service Operator role moving from a policing to a quality control function. Quality Control Service Operators on shift do not have greater responsibilities than those on days. Any problem about quality arising on shift can be referred to the Quality Control Manager, the Production Manager or Moulding Manager. The Company acknowledges that there is a different focus on quality assurance tasks carried out. The Company reviewed the tasks on both shift and day work and found that there was a balance between work loads.
3. Only one slight translation was required to the MTPS to fulfil the ISO 9000 criteria which was the introduction of 20 part checks. This does not involve a significant change which would justify the claim.
4. The claim represents a cost increase and is precluded under the P.C.W. The claim, if conceded, would have serious implications for the Company's grading structure and could seriously affect the Company's competitive position.
The Court, having considered all of the views expressed by the parties in their oral and written submissions, does not consider that evaluation of the job by a third party is appropriate in the circumstances at this time.
The Court however finds that in the present situation, where change is taking place and it is the perception of the employees that such change is adversely impacting on their grades, and the effects of these changes are not being recognised or addressed, this is not conducive to maintaining or improving the industrial relations climate.
Accordingly the Court recommends that the parties seek to put in place an agreed internal arrangement which will enable the grading structure to be reviewed in the light of changes in work practices.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th Janaury, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.