INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH COUNTRY MEATS LIMITED ( BALLAGHADERREEN)
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Dispute concerning:
- 1. The application of the final phase of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP) and the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW)
3. Overtime payments.
2. The dispute relates to the Union's claims on behalf of 20 boners employed at the Ballaghaderreen plant for the payment of the final phase of the PESP and the entire PCW in respect of piece rates, the introduction of some payment system in respect of downtime, and overtime payments in situations where boners were required to work before start time, after normal finishing time or at weekends. Management rejected the claims. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and conciliation conferences were held in November, 1996 and December, 1997. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 18th January, 1997. A Court hearing was held in Castlebar on the 9th April, 1997.
3. 1. February of each year was the appropriate date for the application of wage rounds for other employees in the plant and this date should also apply in respect of boners. They were excluded from the agreement with other workers.
2. The boners are entitled to the small increases due under the National Wage Agreements in the same way as other workers in the employment.
3. Any increase in take-home pay by boners has been achieved by way of increased productivity. Workers achieve optimum levels on a regular basis.
4. In a similar situation the Court recommended that a wage round (PCW) be applied to piece rates (LCR 15373 refers).
4. 1. The piece rate system, to date, has never attracted any national wage rounds. However, while there have been no national wage rounds applied to piece rates, increases have been paid to the boners at a cost to the Company (details to the Court).
2. Traditionally boners negotiated outside national wage agreements and increases in the rates have been achieved by boners over the years.
3. The Company has received quotations from contractors which show that the work could be done for approximately 10% less than current cost to the Company. Extra costs cannot now be conceded.
4. The average earnings of the workers are excellent and compare favourably with similar employees in the industry.
5. 1. The Union seeks compensation of the average hourly earnings of each boner in relation to downtime i.e. unproductive time or time lost as a result of machinery breakdown or lack of material supply which is within the Company's control.
2. It is unreasonable to expect workers to bear the cost of ineffective time when they are not responsible for its cause.
6. 1. It is not normal practice, with piece-rate boning to pay for downtime. With contract boning it has never been the practice to pay for downtime.
2. The Company's competitive position will be further worsened by the imposition of payment for downtime. The Company cannot afford it in the current competitive environment.
3. The Company would be prepared to look at exceptional or once-off situations where downtime has occurred. Discussions at local level would be required on this issue.
7. 1. When work is carried out before normal starting time, after normal finishing time or at weekends an overtime rate should be paid. The Union is not claiming a straight overtime payment to be put in place. However some element of extra payment should be made and it could be calculated at 1.5 times the piece rate on all work, when a
certain daily figure has been achieved. This can be set by reference to the normal limits as devised by Industrial Engineers.
2. The present system, where boners complete long hours on the same rate per quarter, should be discontinued.
8. 1. Overtime has not been a feature of the piece rate systems and the Company does not intend to introduce it. The payment system is structured differently from hourly paid employees.
2. The piece rate system pays a set rate for a particular job regardless of what time of day or night the job is undertaken.
3. The cost of its introduction would be prohibitive.
The Court, having considered the written and verbal submissions of the parties, considers that the conditions applying to a measured incentive scheme differ radically with those of a piecework scheme (rate fixed) and are not interchangeable.
The Court notes that the present piecework scheme is the agreed scheme between the parties and the Court is not required to consider the value of one against the other.
Nevertheless, there are problems which arise from the use of piecework systems particularly as regards to allowing for earnings to be increased to take account of cost of living increases.
The Court recommends that the parties meet to put in place mechanisms which will allow for a review of the fixed prices and take account of workers' ability to keep abreast of changes in cost of living.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th May, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.