INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
THREE RIVERS OIL COMPANY
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Claim by the Union on behalf of 21 sales truck operators and supervisors for payment of the 3% increase provided for under Clause 3 of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP).
2. The Company is an authorised distributor for ESSO. The sales truck operators are paid a weekly wage plus a commission on sales and the supervisors are paid a salary. The Union's claim was originally submitted in May, 1992 and was one of a number of other claims which have been resolved or put in abeyance. The claim was discussed at numerous local level meetings and at conciliation conferences held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. No agreement was reached. The 3% claim is now submitted separately. Management put forward proposals in November 1993 and June 1995 in respect of sales truck operators relating to cash collection, and a payment structure for Saturday work. In return for acceptance of these proposals the Company was agreeable to pay the 3% increase. No proposals were put forward in respect of supervisors. The Union rejected the proposals. Further local discussions were unsuccessful and the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 18th March, 1997. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 9th May, 1997. A Court hearing was held in Kilkenny on the 10th June, 1997.
3. 1. The Union's claim is in accordance with the provisions of Clause 3 of the PESP. The Company is competitive, profitable, and can afford to pay the increase.
2. The workers concerned are prepared to take a flexible and realistic approach to a 'quid pro quo' in return for payment of the increase. However the Company's proposals are totally unworkable, unrealistic and uneven in application. The original proposal involved a wage reduction element. The cash collection proposal was unworkable, and the Saturday working one was flawed, with sales truck operators expected to work for less on Saturday than a Monday - Friday basis.
3. The Supervisors have already given so much to the Company by way of flexibility/productivity that they cannot contribute more.
4. At all times throughout the protracted discussions the Union endeavoured to explore and amend/alter the Company's proposals. It cannot accept proposals which resulted in a loss of earnings.
5. The workers are entitled to the 3% under the PESP. The Company has confirmed its competitive position and ability to pay the increase.
6. The pay rates of the workers concerned are significantly below those of comparator companies (details to the Court).
4. 1. Clause 3 of the PESP states " .......... negotiations under this Clause will take full account of the implications for competitiveness, the need for flexibility and change, and the contribution made by employees to such change". No obligation arises on the Company to make further payment under the terms of Clause 3. The Company did adopt a 'quid pro quo' approach and made two proposals which were rejected by the Union.
2. In May, 1997, the Company again contacted the Union regarding the payment structure for Saturday working and stated that it would give serious consideration to an enhanced structure, on the understanding that this would subsume the claim under Clause 3. As the Union was unwilling to discuss Clause 3 in this context the Company was unable to present a second proposal on Saturday commission.
3. The Company's proposals (either options 11 November, 1993, or 2 June 1995) are reasonable. They are made only in respect of Sales Truck Operators. It has not been possible to structure a proposal for Supervisors based on the 'quid pro quo' principle.
Having considered the submissions, and detailed background and the extended negotiations over a period of 5 years the Court recommends as follows:
1. The claim for payment of 3% under the PESP be conceded by the Company for both Supervisory and Sales Truck Operators.
2. The 3% should be paid to the Sales Truck Operators on the basis set out in the Company letter dated 11th November, 1993 Paragraph 1.
3. The penalty clause set out in Paragraph 2 should be withdrawn.
4. In view of the protracted negotiations the Court recommends an operation date of 1st June, 1996.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.