INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
MINCH NORTON MALT LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
2. The Company is involved in the manufacture of malt for the drinks industry. It is a subsidiary of Greencore PLC and employs 50 people at its location in Athy Co. Kildare.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Company's rationalisation proposals. It is seeking a reduction in the number of shop floor operatives by 5. It has proposed 4 voluntary redundancies and the non-replacement of an operative who is due to retire in the near future. In conjunction with the job reduction, the Company is seeking changes in work practices and a reduction in overtime working.
The Company argues that the implementation of these proposals are crucial in order to bring the Athy Maltings to a position where it can be as competitive and efficient as its rivals in the market both home and abroad. The Union's position is that the Company's proposals are unacceptable and unnecessary and is seeking to have the proposals examined by an agreed third party.
The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference at the Labour Relations Commission on the 19th of December, 1997. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 7th of January, 1998. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 6th of April, 1998.
Following the conciliation conference further discussions took place after which a revised set of proposals were put forward by management. The proposals were rejected by the workers.
3. 1. There are a number of issues which have not been dealt with in any detail and should be the subject of an agreed consultant examination.
2. The issue of the use of contractors by the Company must be dealt with before any cutbacks take place.
3. The changes in pay as outlined in the Company's document are unacceptable.
4. The £500 on offer in return for the workers' acceptance of the terms should be reviewed in the event of agreement being negotiated.
5. Any redundancies must be on a voluntary basis with no ceiling attached.
4. 1. The Company has a requirement to become more efficient in order to meet the ongoing changes taking place in the malting industry. It must also respond to the demands for greater efficiency from its customers.
2. The Company has put forward changes in work practices that are both essential and workable. It has amended its original proposals to deal with concerns raised by employees. Some of these work practices will impact on levels of earnings.
3. Overtime will be related to day-to-day operations and done on an "as needed basis" rather than being worked as part of a routine. Three employees will move from 3-shift working attracting a 33% premium to 2-shift working, attracting a 25% premium. The Company has indicated its willingness to deal with this through a fair compensation formula. The Company's proposal to pay compensation for any such loss of earnings at 18 months value of the loss of earnings is a significant increase on the precedent in the Company.
4. The Company has identified the reductions in employee numbers required and has offered a generous voluntary redundancy package in this regard.
5. The Union has sought 5 weeks pay per year of service as a Greencore "group rate". There are no standard Greencore group redundancy terms and settlements vary widely amongst its companies.
6. The Company's plan for change addresses the challenge of the changing market it operates in. The Company has put forward a revised position where it was possible to do so without compromising its objectives. The Company is respectively requesting the Court to endorse its position by recommending implementation of the proposed work practices and the specified redundancy package.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions is satisfied that no meaningful negotiations have taken place between the parties.
The Court is satisfied that the competition in this business requires that the Company continues to make ongoing changes.
The Court recommends that the parties immediately commence negotiations on the proposals, these negotiations to be completed within 4 weeks from date of this Recommendation.
Issues not resolved to be referred to the Court for recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th April, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.