INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Extended trading hours.
2. The issue in dispute concerns a proposal by the Company to introduce extended trading hours (i.e. Sundays, Bank Holidays and Christmas) to its 35 stores around the country. Several meetings at local level and a number of conciliation conferences failed to resolve the dispute. The dispute was before the Court on the 3rd November, 1997. However, the Court requested the parties to go back to conciliation to establish the issues on which agreement could not be reached.
A conciliation conference was held on the 14th November, 1997. The Company claims that while there was agreement on some of the outstanding issues no agreement could be reached in relation to the substantive issues of (a) flexi full-time jobs; the Company is offering 30 full-time posts within 12 months of the agreement being accepted; the Union is seeking 150 full-time posts; (b) wage scale progression (Saturday staff); the Company wants a maximum of 3 years' service before an increment is given; the Union wants an increment to be awarded after 2 years' service; (c) payment for acceptance of the proposed agreement; the Company has offered a "once off" payment of one week's wages payable when extended trading hours apply in the individual stores concerned; the Union is seeking an "on-going" annual payment for all staff in the form of a bonus upon acceptance of the proposed agreement; (d) sick pay scheme (part-time staff) the Company has offered 12 days per annum less social welfare benefits after one year's service; the Union is seeking six weeks per annum less social welfare benefit, after six months' service. Other issues not resolved include Christmas trading; reward payment to staff; pro-rata contracts; an opt out/in clause for existing staff on Sunday roster; and promotional outlets for store persons.
As no final agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 27th November, 1997 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 23rd February, 1998.
3. 1. The Union has concluded extended trading agreements with other major retail outlets. The claims made by the Union are reasonable and should be conceded.
2. The Union is looking for the creation of 150 full-time jobs as part of any agreement on extended trading. In Dunnes Stores, the Court recommended the up-grading of 400 part-time employees to full-time status. Similarly, in a package negotiated with Superquinn covering extended trading there was an offer to all part-time employees of full-time up-grades.
3. The Union is seeking an "ongoing" bonus payment of one week's pay for agreement on extended trading. A similar bonus was paid by Quinnsworth following agreement on extended trading.
4. Union members will not accept anything less than that offered to their colleagues employed by Quinnsworth and Superquinn for the implementation of extended trading.
4. 1. The Company has made a comprehensive offer on employee terms and conditions of employment to settle the dispute.
2. The extension of trading hours is essential for the Company. Its competitors i.e. Dunnes Stores and Tesco already have it in place which gives them a competitive advantage.
3. Consumer demand for extended trading has changed the nature of work organisation within the industry. The Company must follow this trend or it will continue to lose business and jobs to competitors.
4. The Company cannot be expected to pay more than its competitors, nor can it be expected to operate at a competitive disadvantage to other operators in the trade because of trade union demands.
This dispute was referred to the Court by both parties despite the best efforts of all involved to reach agreement at further conciliation talks. Regrettably major disagreements still exist between the parties. In the course of the second hearing the question of incremental progression for part-time workers arose and both parties were invited by the Court to make submissions on this point. Both submissions were received and this point will be referred to again below.
In its submission to the Court on 23/2/1998 the Union at page 2 stated that it intended using the Union paper of 1997 (Appendix 1) as a working paper, and that clauses other than those raised again can be considered agreed in principle between the parties.
The Court has adopted a similar approach and accordingly addresses each of the issues in dispute in the order outlined in the Union document.
1. Clause 3(a) Existing Staff:- The "once off" option be extended to provide a facility for a further option should there be a significant change in the personal circumstances of the employee.
Clause - (E&F):- The inclusion of the phrase "or future" is not unreasonable provided it is understood that if difficulties arise in the future the Union are prepared to enter into bona fide negotiations.
2. Clause 5 - Christmas Trading:- Four Sundays prior to Christmas should be treated as Christmas Trading provided the store is in fact open. Treble time will be paid to staff employed at 31st October 1996 for Christmas Sundays and double time for staff employed after 31st October, 1996.
3. Clause 6 (a) (c):- Existing storepersons should be assimilated into the sales assistants scale having regard to their service.
REWARDS/PAYMENTS TO STAFF
(A) Clause 1:- "Regular Part-time Staff" - The Union definition of what constitutes a regular part-time employee i.e. a worker who works at least 8 hours per week is upheld.
(B) Clause 1 (a):- Progression - This has been referred to in the opening paragraph above. In the context of this claim and conscious of developments in Europe on this issue the Court considers that the Union agree the Company's proposals pro-tem and pursue the issue further in the appropriate forum if it so decides.
(D) Clause 2(a) & (b):- Flexi Full-time Jobs - The Company should increase the number of full-time positions to 50 and agree to increase that number to 100 on a progressive basis as extra stores become involved in extended trading.
Clause 3:- Ongoing Payment (a) and (b) - In light of the fact that Penney's already pay an extra week's bonus the Court recommends that the Union accept a once-off payment of three weeks wages.
Clause 4 (B):- Pro-Rata Contracts - The Company will guarantee a minimum of 15 hours per week with the exception of Friday night/Saturday staff.
Clause 5:- Existing Staff Etc. - This seems to be agreed between the parties.
Sick Pay Scheme:- Part-time Staff - The Company proposal as outlined in Appendix B of the submission be agreed subject to 18 hours in Para 1. being reduced to 15.
The Court recommends acceptance of the above proposals to the parties.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th April, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.