SECTION 8(1)(A), ANTI-DISCRIMINATION (PAY) ACT, 1974
SPRING GROVE SERVICES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Appeal by SIPTU against Equality Officer's Recommendation No EP1/1996 concerning a claim by the Union that 24 female employees are entitled to the same rate of remuneration as that paid to 8 named comparators in terms of Section 3(c) of the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974.
2. The Company supplies and launders bed linen, table linen, roller towels, mats and other laundry for hospitals, hotels and restaurants. The Company employs 45 permanent staff and 40 temporary and casual staff. The claimants, who are graded as general operatives Grade 1, work in the finishing area of the factory, while the comparators, wash house operatives Grade 4, are employed in the wash house area. At the time the claim was lodged, the comparators earned £195.75 per week, while the claimants earned £171.71 per week, a differential of £24.04 per week.
The Union claims that the work performed by the claimants is equal in value to that performed by their male counterparts in the wash house area in terms of skill, physical or mental effort, responsibility and working conditions. The Company rejects the claim and contends that the volume of work and speed required by wash house operatives is superior to that required elsewhere in the plant. The Company also states that the claimants' rate of pay is a common general operative rate which is also paid to a number of male operatives, while the higher rate paid to the comparators was agreed with the Union in the past to compensate for the extra demands placed on wash house operatives and to retain their services.
The Union submitted the claim to an Equality Officer for investigation. On the 11th January, 1996, the Equality Officer issued her recommendation as follows:-
"....... I find that none of the claimants have any entitlement to the same rate of remuneration as that paid to each of the named comparators."
On the 5th February, 1996, the Union appealed the Equality Officer's Recommendation to the Labour Court on the following grounds:-
- 1. The Equality Officer erred in fact in stating that there is greater physical and mental effort placed on the comparators than that of the claimants.
2. The Equality Officer erred in fact in stating that a greater level of skill is required by the comparators while no qualifications are necessary for anyone to work in any area of Spring Grove Services.
3. The Equality Officer erred in fact in stating that the responsibility of the male comparators is greater than that of the 24 female claimants.
4. The Equality Officer erred in fact in stating that the comparators are working in worse conditions.
The Court, having heard all of the views expressed by the parties in their oral and written submissions and having carried out an inspection of the work of both the claimants and the comparators, concurs with the conclusions arrived at by the Equality Officer and finds that the claimants do not perform "like work" with that performed by the named comparators in terms of the demands it makes in relation to skill, physical or mental effort, responsibility and working conditions.
The Court decides that the claimants are not entitled to the same rate of remuneration as that paid to each of the comparators.
Accordingly the appeal fails.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Determination should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.