INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
PEERLESS RUG EUROPE LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Non- payment of Phase 3 of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (P.C.W.).
2. The dispute before the Court relates to the non-payment of phase 3 of the P.C.W. due from 1st September, 1996. The Company employs over 100 people at its plant in Athy. It manufactures bathroom rugs for the home and export market. The Union states that it was given a commitment by the Company in a letter dated 13th April, 1994 that all phases of the PCW would be paid . The Company is now reneging on this promise.
The Company claims that it is unable to pay phase 3 of the PCW because of trading difficulties. It outlined its position in a letter to the Union dated 12th August, 1996 .
It claims that its current labour costs of £9.52 per hour is substantially out of line with the Company's competitors in the U.K. where the rate is approximately £6.00 per hour and is further out of line with lower costs in countries such as Portugal, North Africa and the East.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Conciliation Service of the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 12th November, 1996 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 4th March, 1997.
3. 1. The Company gave a commitment in 1994 to pay all phases of the P.C.W. but have now gone back on that promise.
2. The Company also opted out of paying the 3% provided for under Clause 3 of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (P.E.S.P.).
3. The Company has refused to co-operate with the Union in relation to its economic difficulties.
4. The Court should audit the Company's accounts before making a recommendation in the matter.
4. 1. The Company has no objection to the Court having access to its financial accounts on a confidential basis.
2. The Company is at a significant competitive disadvantage because of the high cost of labour at the plant.
3. Any more increases in the cost of labour will increase the threat of further job losses and to the viability of the plant.
4. The Company is claiming inability to pay this claim in accordance with Clause 3 of the P.C.W.
The Court has considered carefully the written and oral submissions made by both parties, and the Price Waterhouse Report to the Company.
The Court believes that it is essential that both parties work very closely together to bring the Company through its present difficulties. This will require a change in attitudes by both parties to each other.
The Company has indicated that it could be emerging from its problems by year end. On this basis the Court recommends that the Company pay its employees an increase on account of 1% from March 1st 1997, and accept that the balance of Phase 3 of P.C.W. remains outstanding, to be met as soon as the financial position allows.
The position should be reviewed by the parties in January next, to decide if further payments can then be made against the PCW.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.