INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH PRINTING FEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Merit money.
2. The Company, which is involved in the printing industry, was established in 1972 and employs approximately 40 staff. The Union's claim is for equity in treatment in respect of merit money currently paid to 12 journeypersons. The Union claims that the workers concerned receive merit money of £26.00 per week upon completion of six and a half years' service with the Company, while all other workers receive £50.00 per week within their probationary period of 6 or 12 months. The Company rejects the claim on the grounds that various amounts of merit money are paid to individual workers at the discretion of management and that the claim is cost increasing under the terms of the PCW.
The issue was discussed at a Joint Industrial Council meeting on 25th January, 1996, and at a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on 5th June, 1996. As agreement could not be reached the Union requested referral to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on 9th January, 1997, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The workers concerned have an industry-wide agreement for equal pay with their male colleagues who are employed as print operatives. The principle of equal pay should apply not only to basic pay but to all elements of remuneration.
2. The Union's claim seeks to redress an anomaly created by the Company. The claim is therefore exceptional and is not cost increasing under the terms of the PCW.
3. The Company's position that merit money is paid solely at management's discretion is unreasonable. It effectively excludes aggrieved employees from making a case for themselves, which is contrary to grievance procedures as set out in the Registered Employment Agreement for the industry.
4. 1. There is a clear understanding in the printing industry that merit money is paid at the employer's discretion provided that the agreed industry rates are paid. In this case the rates of pay are exceeded. Recipients must justify their entitlement to merit money and the Company reserves the right to withdraw the payment at any time.
2. Although there is a structure in place in relation to merit money paid to journeypersons a multitude of merit money rates apply in respect of other employees in the Company. Merit money is an extra and discretionary payment made to individuals for a variety of reasons such as the retention of their services or in order to entice them to work for a particular company.
3. The Union states that its claim is not an equal pay claim, but it is attempting to institutionalise the payment of merit money and to remove its discretionary feature. It is a cost increasing claim which is prohibited under the terms of the PCW.
Based on the information before it the Court does not recommend any changes to the existing merit money payment system.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th January, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.