INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
IRISH DISTILLERS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute concerning the non-recognition of SIPTU as a negotiating body for clerical/administrative workers.
2. The Company employs 400 permanent employees. The dispute relates to the Union's claim on behalf of 28 clerical/supervisory workers. The Union is seeking recognition as a negotiating body on behalf of this group. Management rejected the claim on the grounds that the staff are adequately represented by the Staff Association. On the 20th January, 1997, the Union referred the dispute to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held on the 9th June, 1997.
3. 1. The workers concerned who have joined the Union have done so on the grounds that a professional organisation can best offer advice, assistance and representation if required. It is not a condition of employment that salaried staff join and remain members of the Staff Association. A substantial number are without any representation and some have applied to join the Union.
2. The Staff Association is not a trade union but an internal Company based structure. Its constitution has a clause which commits its members to acceptance of the association as a sole negotiating body for its members. This is its prerogative. The Union does not wish to interfere in the affairs of the association. However, this stipulation is not the same as the Company recognition of the Staff Association as a sole negotiating body.
3. It is unfair and discriminatory that the Company should insist that workers must only be represented by the Staff Association when it is clearly not their preferred option. Good industrial relations practice dictates that all workers be afforded equal opportunity. If industrial workers and some salaried staff at the Middleton location have trade union representation it is unfair that salaried staff in Dublin are denied it.
4. The Company avails of the services of a professional body to represent it while denying the same choice to its salaried workers.
4. 1. The workers concerned are already adequately represented by the Irish Distillers Staff Association (IDSA). In 1985, the Company signed a procedural agreement with the IDSA which awarded it full sole negotiating rights for workers at Company HQ and other salaried/administrative staff at most of its production sites.
2. The Company is fully supportive of the right of its workers to representation. At present 41% of workers are in Union membership and a further 29% are represented by the IDSA.
3. The procedural agreement reached between the Company and the IDSA provides the association with sole negotiating rights. This agreement states, inter alia, "the Company will not recognise any other staff association which is not party to this agreement". This is a standard arrangement which allows each party to negotiate without fear of the agreement being undermined by other groups seeking or obtaining negotiating rights. It has proved highly effective in the past and should remain in place. Representation of clerical/administrative staff by two bodies is unnecessary and would serve to take away from the good working relationship between workers and Company which currently exists.
4. The vast majority of workers have agreed to the present arrangement and voluntarily have agreed to its continued operation in accordance with the terms of the procedural agreement.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions from the parties directly involved in this dispute. It has also received detailed representation from an "interested party" i.e. Irish Distillers Staff Association.
The Court notes that this Association has an agreement with the Company executed in 1985 which gave the Association sole negotiation rights for salaried staff and that they recently applied to affiliate to I.C.T.U. S.I.P.T.U. submits that it has recruited some of the staff into membership and these members wish the union to represent them. Whilst appreciating the position of the Company and the Staff Association the Courtrecommendsthat the Company
agree to recognise the Union's right to represent those members of staff that it has in membership.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th September, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.