INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NOONAN CLEANING SERVICE LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Introduction of fixed evening shift.
2. The dispute concerns the appropriate rate of shift premium for the introduction of fixed evening shift operations for 2 cleaning operatives.
The Company, operating out of its Cork office, has managed the cleaning contract at the Merck, Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) plant in Clonmel since March, 1995. The contract, initially on an interim trial basis, was formally secured by the Company to commence on the 4th of November, 1996. Part of the agreed new cleaning specification was a need to effect some cleaning work after normal working hours. From the outset, 8 cleaning operatives had worked from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on a standard 5 day week. The Company now required some of the cleaners to work from 1.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
Following a meeting between the parties on the 24th October, 1996, the Company's final offer was for 2 cleaners to work from 12.00 noon to 8.00 p.m. at a fixed shift premium of 18%. The Union's position was that it would only consider the offer if the premium was 20%.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 27th November, 1996. As the parties did not reach agreement the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 14th February, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1), Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 25th February, 1997.
3. 1. Prior to the Company commencing operations in Clonmel, agreement was reached on the basic pay and conditions of employment. At no stage, including a meeting of 2nd October, 1996, were the workers made aware of any fixed shift-working arrangements. The Company first mentioned the need for shift working after the meeting of the 2nd October. The workers were not agreeable to this as no negotiations had taken place.
2. Further meetings took place. The Company increased its initial offer of 15% premium to 18% but this was again rejected as the hours involved are very unsocial. The Company has unilaterally changed its initial terms of employment. The new shift work should carry a premium of 20%.
4. 1. The Company's proposed fixed shift will finish at 8.00 p.m. which is considerably earlier than most evening shifts. The average premium paid for such shifts is 16.3%. Premium payments of 20% are normally only paid for 2-shift operations covering a full 16 hours per day and involving 2 rotating crews.
2. The Company has been very flexible in trying to accommodate the workers in this situation. It has increased the premium rate from 15% to 18%. The initial requirement of 3 workers has been reduced to 2, and the time has been changed
from 1.00 p.m. - 9.00 p.m. to 12.00 noon - 8.00 p.m. The Company operates in an industry which is dictated by the client's requirements. If the Company cannot satisfy MSD's requirements as in this case, further cleaning contracts could be at risk.
In view of the lack of evidence to support the Union's claim, the Court finds that the Company's offer of 18% for an evening shift from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. for 2 workers is reasonable and should be accepted.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.