INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
YVES ROCHER MANUFACTURING (IRELAND) LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Transfer of an employee.
2. The worker has been employed by the Company since 1987. Her original job description was general operator/packaging (sorting). In September, 1995, her duties were expanded to include over-labelling and returns (a full list of her duties was supplied to the Court). On 16th October, 1996, the Union claims that the worker was informed that her additional duties were to be the responsibility of a supervisor in the future and that she would revert to her original duties. When the worker was doing the extra duties she received a differential of £16 per week. She would lose the differential as a result of the change in work practices. The Company was prepared to compensate her with 2 years' loss of differential but the Union was not agreeable to this.
The Company's view is that a lot of work being done by the worker would now be the responsibility of the supplier e.g., where previously the worker would sort rejected packaging components which would then have to be re-tested, these components would be sent back directly to the supplier to sort out.
The dispute was the subject of meetings at local level and conciliation conferences on 11th December, 1996 and 30th January, 1997. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 18th February, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 9th April, 1997.
3. 1. Up to October, 1996, there was no indication of any problems with the worker's job. The worker did not have Union representation with her at the hearing on 16th October, 1996 nor would the Company discuss the re-organisation with the Union.
2. The worker had saved the Company considerable money, almost £14,000 in 1995, as a result of her initiative in the work she was doing. Therefore, the Company's claim that the need for the re-organisation was financial does not make sense. The work she was doing was 'core-activity' which was done since 1984. The Company has had a problem with lack of stock since November, 1996, when the worker was forced to revert to her old job.
3. A steering committee involving management and workers had been set up in January, 1996, to deal with re-organisation yet it was management alone which made the decision to change the worker's duties. Some of the worker's previous duties are now being done on overtime by 2 other employees. Staff members are advising outside contractors how to complete sorts. Management had stated that this would be the sole responsibility of the contractors.
4. 1. The main reason for the Company's decision to return the worker to her original duties was financial. The Company must take whatever steps are necessary to make it cost-effective. The change in work practices means that it is now the responsibility of the supplier to make sure that goods are in a satisfactory condition. Previously, this was the responsibility of the worker and was very time-consuming. Another aspect is that over-labelling, previously done by the worker, can now be done 3 times faster by machine. The benefits to the Company have already become apparent.
2. The Company can understand the worker's disappointment with the change and has offered her 2 years' loss of the differential by way of compensation. The worker also has first option on incoming quality inspection work which pays a differential of £16. This work could arise up to 8 weeks per year.
The Court has fully considered all of the views expressed by the parties in their oral and written submissions.
The Court finds that, given the needs of the Company, the matter of the transfer of the employee could have been addressed in a more considerate manner, particularly taking account of the years she had filled the position.
In all the circumstances of this case, it is the view of the Court that she should carry out the work as requested by management, the parties to agree her hours of work.
She should retain the differential on a red-circle basis, until such time as the Company can place her in a post carrying the differential.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th May, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.