INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JOHN A WOOD LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Pay and conditions relating to new machines.
2. The Company is a major supplier of concrete blocks in the Munster area. In 1995/1996 it installed new concrete making machines at its quarries in Tralee, Killarney, Classis and Carrigtwohill. The new machines are automatic and have a much greater capacity than the old machines.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Union's claim for an increase in pay on behalf of 8 operators in return for the workers' acceptance of the new technology.
The Company has offered to increase the operators' pay from that of Grade 4 to Grade 2 on condition that the operators agree to staggered lunch/tea breaks. The Union rejected the Company's offer.
Local level discussions failed to resolve the issue and the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on 16th January, 1997. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 13th March, 1997 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Cork on the 28th May, 1997.
3. 1. The introduction of the new machines has increased production from 22,000 blocks per day to 39,000 and has resulted in substantial benefits to the Company.
2. The operation of the new machines and the increased responsibilities associated with the operation justifies the payment, without conditions, of the Company's offer.
3. Staggered breaks will result in substantial benefits to the Company and should be the subject of separate negotiations. Any change in the pattern of breaks could affect the morale of the workers.
4. 1. The Company was obliged to invest heavily in new block-making facilities to enable it to remain competitive and to protect market share.
2. Continuous running of the machines is necessary to allow the Company recoup the sizeable capital cost involved.
3. Personnel employed in Classis have operated staggered breaks since November, 1995 and its operation is satisfactory.
4. The Company/Union Agreement provides for the continuation of substantial payments (hourly productivity rate, attendance bonus, safety bonus, tool money and Christmas bonus) in return for productivity and flexibility. This flexibility includes current arrangements and subsequent arrangements to improve efficiency and safeguard jobs.
Having considered the submissions from the parties and recognising that staggered tea/meal breaks are now not an unusual pattern in industry the Court has concluded that the Company's offer of regrading from Grade 4 to Grade 2 is reasonable in the circumstances and should be accepted.
The Court further advises that the Company should explain in detail how it proposes to implement its proposals to the workforce.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.