INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
AUTOMATIC PLASTICS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Dispute concerning payment of the final phase of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW).
2. The Company commenced production in 1972, in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow and is involved in plastic injection moulding, supplying injection moulded parts to a variety of industries. The dispute concerns a claim by the Union on behalf of approximately 50 operatives, for payment of the final phase of the PCW, i.e.,
2.5% due from the 1st of June, 1996
1.0% due from the 1st of January, 1997.
The Union states that it agreed to a pay-freeze of 12 months, spread over the lifetime of the PCW and that the Company is now failing to honour commitments it gave to the workforce in respect of the co-operation and goodwill demonstrated by them over a considerable period of time.
The Company's position is that it is unable to pay the final phase of the PCW, in line with the clause of the PCW which refers to the economic circumstances of the enterprise, due to its continuing financial losses.
The matter was the subject of conciliation conferences in September, 1996 and in March, 1997, following which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 5th of March, 1997, under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation on the 1st of May, 1997.
3. 1. At conciliation, in September, 1996, the workforce was requested to wait until the end of 1996 in order to allow the Company to assess its financial position. This request was complied with fully and at a further conciliation conference, in March, 1997, no offer was forthcoming from the Company. The workforce were greatly disappointed by the lack of progress on the issue and a ballot for industrial action was taken. However, the workers continue to co-operate despite having suffered severe financial losses in earnings.
2. Lay-offs and short-time occurred from December, 1995, to July, 1996 and 25 workers have been on lay-off since December, 1996. The annual Christmas bonus was not paid in 1996. Overtime has been drastically reduced and the workers are now totally dependant on their basic wage.
3. The agreed basic increases under national wage agreements are now of paramount importance to the workers. They have honoured the PCW agreement in full and are seeking the basic agreed increases due to them.
4. 1. The Managing Director started the Company in 1972 with one machine and one employee. His main concern is for the people who helped him build the Company to what it is today. Many of the staff have been with the Company for over 20 years. When employing over 60 people there could be over 50 families depending on the Company. The Managing Director is very much aware of this and his obligation to them. He is saddened by the fact that workers do not accept the situation as it is and have, prior to a Labour Court hearing, balloted to strike unless they get what they want. It is his opinion and that of the Company's accountant that, if the 3.5% under Phase 3 of the PCW and Partnership 2000 increases are forced on the Company, it cannot survive. Should the Company be forced to close it is doubtful if an industry will be found to take its place in Tinahely.
2. In order to ensure that the Company is given every possible chance to survive as a commercial entity, the employees must forgo any increase due to them under the 3rd phase of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work. Such increases are incompatible with the economic and commercial circumstances in which the Company finds itself at present.
The Court has fully considered all of the views expressed by the parties in their oral and written submissions, together with the information supplied as requested.
The Court finds that if the Company is to be viable and the employment is to be secured, costs will have to be contained.
The Court recognises the co-operation given by the employees to date and their entitlement to benefit under the pay proposals of the National Agreements.
Given the present circumstances the Court makes the following recommendations:-
- (1) That the Company pay to the employees an increase of 1% with effect from the 1st of June, 1997;
(2) That they make available the Company accounts on a confidential basis to the representative of the Union;
(3) That, at the end of the financial year, the parties review the situation with a view to considering how best to meet the obligations to the employees under the pay clauses of the National Programmes (PCW and Partnership 2000).
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th of June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.