INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH GLASS BOTTLE COMPANY
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. (i) Timekeepers' compensation;
(ii) Rate for part-time trainers.
2. (i) Timekeepers' compensation:-
In 1992, as part of an overall agreement between the parties, the number of timekeepers was to be reduced from 4 to 2, with an accompanying change in shift system and overtime. The agreement stated that:
"When all clock in/out takes place in the factory and other security arrangements have been finalised, then we will change to a two shift system 7.00a.m. - 3.00p.m. and 3.00p.m. to 11.00p.m. with overtime 7.30 a.m. to 12.30p.m. Saturday and Sunday".
The reduction in timekeepers has not happened yet and the Union is seeking compensation for the loss of overtime earnings. The Union claims that decisions were made by employees in relation to the agreement on the understanding that the new working arrangements would come into operation. The Company's position is that the agreement between the parties allowed for the continuation of existing arrangements until it was in a position to make the changes which have been delayed due to operational and security difficulties.
(ii) Rate for part-time trainers:-
In 1987, the Company discontinued full-time training through its training instructors. Future training requirements were to be covered by part-time trainers. Eventually, the Company appointed two such trainers, one for the 'hot end', (glass production/process control) the other working in the 'cold end' (Q.C. inspection, packaging, re-working, storage etc.). Following discussions in 1989, the Company agreed to pay a per diem allowance to both trainers (£1.75/£1.50 respectively) in addition to existing agreed payments.
Since the 1970s, the Company has also employed a demonstrator in the hot end on each shift whose function is to demonstrate the operation of the bottle-making machines in a live situation after trainees had finished in the training centre. They receive a payment of £4 on a weekly basis. The Union is seeking the application of this payment to the part time instructors - a claim which has been rejected by the Company.
The matters in dispute were the subject of conciliation conferences under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. They were referred to the Labour Court, on the 27th of May, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation on the 29th of August, 1997.
3. (i) Timekeepers' compensation:-
1. The Rationalisation Agreement impacted on workers to varying degrees. In the vast majority of cases the impact was negative. In the case of Timekeepers, while it provided for a 50% reduction in the number of such workers with consequential redundancies and loss of promotional outlets, for those remaining there were clear benefits. This was the only group to whom a discernible advantage would accrue from the overall agreement. While the Company expeditiously implemented those aspects which impacted negatively on staff, the one advantageous provision has remained outstanding for a period of three and a half years.
2. The provisions with regard to Timekeepers are an integral part of the agreement. It is reasonable for those affected to assume that this provision would be implemented concurrent with the other provisions. While it was anticipated that certain changes were necessary before it could become fully operable, a firm commitment had been given that these would be in place within eight months. It was on the basis of this commitment that the clause of the agreement in question was accepted.
3. The workers concerned have been patient in tolerating continued deferment of these changes. However, their patience is now exhausted. The implementation of this element of the agreement should have resulted in increased earnings of approximately £50.00 per week for two workers. The Company should immediately implement the relevant clause of the agreement and the workers should be compensated for the loss of earnings accruing in consequence of the protracted delay.
(ii) Rate for part-time trainers:-
1. The role of training instructors is significantly more central and onerous in the training function than that of demonstrators yet, unlike demonstrators, their allowance is discontinued during periods when they are not actually engaged in instructing. There is no objective justification for this disparity.
2. Training instructors must not only acquire a high level of technical knowledge of the Company's plant and production processes, but must also develop communication and teaching skills. This skill and knowledge must be maintained and updated on an ongoing basis and this process cannot become dormant while the instructors are engaged in normal production duties. In this context, the allowance should more properly be regarded as a reward for possession and perfection of additional skills and knowledge, above that required of the generality of employees, rather than a payment to cover its periodic use.
3. When the current system was introduced, private arrangements were made with the individuals then concerned. They were not agreed with the Union and the Union had no knowledge of them. In those circumstances the Union and its members cannot be bound by what was privately agreed with individual employees and is, therefore, not precluded from seeking agreed terms for the continued provision of this service to the Company.
4. In addition to its claim to have the allowance paid on an ongoing basis the Union is also seeking an increase in its value calculated by reference to the increase in pay applied since its introduction in 1988. Pay has increased by 33.33% over this period. No increases have been applied to this allowance. If past increases had been applied the value of this allowance should be £2.00/£2.33 approximately per day.
4. (i) Timekeepers' compensation:-
1. There was no agreed time-frame or deadline for implementing the agreed changes of shift structure which were dependant on two eventualities, i.e., clocking arrangements and security arrangements being put in place.
2. As a result of major projects and ongoing engineering work (details supplied to Court), the security arrangements referred to in the 1992 agreement have not yet been put in place. However, the work in question is well underway and should be completed by November, 1997.
3. When the agreement is fully implemented, the number of Timekeepers will reduce from four to two and the two remaining Timekeepers will be in receipt of regular overtime at weekends. There will also be a cost-saving for the Company resulting from the reduction in the number of Timekeepers. In the meantime, existing Timekeepers continue to operate with exactly the same terms and conditions as they have always enjoyed.
(ii) Rate for part-time trainers:-
1. As an adjustment to the basic rate, the claim is cost-increasing and it should be precluded under current wage agreements. In addition, due to contraction of numbers employed and reorganisation of work practices, training requirements continue to decrease. Over the last five years there have been only 8 new production employees requiring training. This includes 3 years where there was no requirement whatsoever. In the previous 5 years there were more than 50 new trainees, i.e., an average of more than 10 trainees per annum.
2. When the positions of part-time trainers were created, they were conceded an additional payment for each day on training. They also continue to enjoy shift premium and other shift benefits.
3. When the trainers are involved in training, there is a requirement for the Company to replace them in their full-time positions on shift.
4. The shift demonstrator can be called on to give on-the-job training at short notice. He must, in addition, carry out all his normal duties and continue to work on shift without assistance or replacement.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, the Court recommends as follows on the two items in dispute:-
(1)Timekeepers' compensation:- On the basis of the statement from the Company that the security arrangements will be in place not later than November, 1997, the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
(2)Rate for part-time Trainers:- The Court recommends that the daily allowance be doubled with effect from the 1st of January 1997.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
9th of September, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.