INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CANTRELL AND COCHRANE (DUBLIN)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Warehouse bonus.
2. In 1996, the Company and the Union concluded an agreement on a survival package. The Company identified that warehousing costs were excessive and needed to be substantially reduced. A major element of these costs was the productivity scheme. The operation involved the "picking" i.e. physically lifting cases onto a conveyor belt.
Part of the agreement involved the reduction in the "picking crew" from 5 to 2. The remaining "pickers" were paid on a case basis. The Company claims that it envisaged at the time that bonus earnings would rise by about £23 per picker i.e. from £125 to £148. However, the bonus earnings are currently running at £413 per picker due to the number of cases being picked. It was agreed at the time that other workers in the warehouse not directly involved in "picking" could help. The Company claims that these costs are unsustainable. The Union argues that its members implemented the agreement and have embraced teamworking which was a core element of the new productivity scheme. The members operating in the warehouse are unwilling to agree to a change in the current scheme.
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 1st August, 1997 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 5th September, 1997.
3. 1. The workers are unwilling to alter the current bonus scheme which was concluded by the agreement of both sides in 1996.
2. Management has endeavoured to bring extra workers into the warehouse area without agreed criteria. The members have objected to this move.
3. The workers claim that significant efforts and teamworking has yielded them increased earnings which they want to maintain.
4. The bonus scheme was implemented on the Company's own analysis which the workers have implemented.
5. The workers have proposed that the warehouse be jointly studied to allow for revisions to the scheme. The Company rejected the proposal.
4. 1. The bonus earnings are currently running at £413 per picker due to the number of cases being picked. These costs are unsustainable.
2. The 1996 agreement was envisaged to maintain the current level of bonus with appropriate cost savings to the Company. This has not happened as costs have increased.
3. The Company proposed changes to the current bonus scheme which would have reduced costs.
4. The current cost of the overrun in relation to the bonus scheme is estimated at £62,000 per annum.
5. The agreed formula has not worked. It has increased costs and consequently put the continuance of the picking operations at risk, and may put jobs at risk.
Following consideration of the submissions, the Court recommends that a study into the operation of the warehouse be undertaken by a team representative of the Union and the Company. This study should use the actual figures of output achieved since the scheme commenced in October, 1996 as its base and concentrate on how its current operation is affecting the two pickers and the team assisting them.
The report of the study to be made available to both parties by Friday 27th September, 1997 at the latest following which they should meet to seek agreement as to how the original objectives of the new scheme may now be achieved.
In the event of failure to agree, the parties may seek further assistance from the Court.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th September, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.