INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Salary increase for a worker.
2. Swissco is privately-owned and employs up to 100 workers at its plant at Little Island Industrial Estate, Cork. Its core business is the production of "own label" ready meals for the U.K. retail sector.
The claim is on behalf of a research assistant whose salary, the Union argues, should be in the region of £15,200 per annum. At present her salary is approximately £12,500 per annum, including a chargehand allowance of £25 per week. The Company's position is that the appropriate rate for her work would be about £13,000 per annum.
The worker was employed by the Company as a general operative in 1981. She moved to the quality control department in 1987 and to the area of research and development in 1988. She claims that she was given an undertaking that, after 6 months' probation, she would receive an increase in her rate. She received no increase and there appears to be no record of the alleged promise of an increase. In 1995, the worker completed a certificate in food technology, was upgraded to research assistant and received a wage adjustment upwards from that of laboratory assistant to that of chargehand. In 1996, she completed a diploma in food technology and claims that she was promised a further pay review. The Company disputes the validity of her claim. The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 1st of July, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation, in Cork, on the 5th of November, 1997.
3. 1. The salary-increase being sought is justified based on the worker's qualifications, i.e., her certificates in Quality Control (1988) and Food Science and Technology (1995) and her diploma in Food Science and Technology (1996).
2. The worker is recognised as the Research Assistant and is responsible solely to the Development Manager, developing recipes with the assistance of the operators. She does work in conjunction with the food technologist in order to ensure that there is no backlog of work and there is an excellent relationship between them ensuring that the job progresses satisfactorily.
3. The department has one less food technologist than was the case two years ago and the work-load has been divided without variation in duties between the worker and the food technologist.
4. Promises have been made by management to the worker in relation to pay increases and overtime allocated to her is a stop-gap measure which does not provide adequate compensation.
4. 1. The worker receives the Company chargehand rate of pay even though she has no supervisory responsibilities. Her current salary compares with a general operative annual rate of £11,187 and her previous rate of £12,202 as a laboratory assistant.
2. The worker does not have full degree qualifications as a fully qualified food technologist. To qualify for membership of the Institute of Food Science and Technology requires full degree status. Diploma level certification equates to technician level qualification. Fully qualified laboratory technicians in the industry earn up to £13,000 per annum with laboratory managers earning £15,000 per annum for full laboratory management and supervision.
3. A diploma qualified technician operating in another department within Swissco Limited receives a rate of £13,427 per annum.
4. The worker is employed as a research assistant. Customer liaison is limited and all work is supervised by her manager. Any comparison between the contribution of an experienced degree qualified food technologist and the position of a part-time diploma holder is clearly spurious. Degree-level technologists bring a wider knowledge base to the work and require less direct supervision and management.
5. The worker has no other experience outside of the Company whereas more senior colleagues in the department have extensive work experience with private label food companies.
6. The Company's rates compare favourably with rates paid elsewhere in the "ready meals" industry in Ireland. The Company cannot countenance further wage drift or risk creating pay precedents in the existing business climate of annual operating losses.
Having considered the submissions, the Court is of the view that a wage rate equivalent to £13,500 from 1st of June, 1997 is fair in the circumstances and so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th of November, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.