INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
KILKENNY TEXTILE MILLS
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute concerning maintenance operations during temporary lay-off
2. The Company manufactures spun cotton yarn and employs 83 workers The dispute relates to lay-off arrangements for maintenance staff and the Company's decision to include them in the temporary lay-off during April, 1998. The Union claims that it reached agreement with the Company in March, 1992 (details to the Court) regarding arrangements for maintenance during lay-off. It states that craftworkers would be guaranteed at least 3 weeks' maintenance work during temporary lay-offs. The Company contends that the letter of March, 1992 was specific to the situation at the time and does not accept that it constitutes an agreement relating to on-going lay-offs. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 24th June, 1998. Agreement could not be reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 10th July, 1998. A Court hearing was held in Kilkenny on the 3rd November, 1998.
1. The Company's proposal to include craftsmen in the temporary lay-off in April, 1998 was in breach of the agreement reached in 1992. The Union seeks an assurance from the Company that it will honour the agreement in relation to craftpersons working during temporary lay-off.
2. If change is required in relation to the agreement the Union is prepared to enter into negotiations with the Company to reach an agreement acceptable to both parties.
3. The craftpersons who experienced financial loss due to the arbitrary unilateral action of the Company, during the disputed lay-off period, should be compensated in full.
1. It is impossible to put an interpretation on the letter of 1992 that it represents an ongoing agreement. There is no facet of the letter revealing any intention, explicit or implicit, to make an agreement for any period other than the months of 1992.
2. The extremely difficult market conditions experienced in the textile industry since 1992 have resulted in a number of lay-offs at various periods (details to the Court).
3. The Company has maintained a consistent position that lay-offs are introduced on a case by case basis and that workers will be retained provided work is available.
4. The Company cannot concede the Union's claim that certain levels of work must be guaranteed or that lay-offs would be "compensated" i.e. effectively that workers would be paid while at home.
5. If the Company concedes the Union's claim it would give rise to knock-on claims from other groups in the plant.
It is clear that circumstances have changed considerably since the agreement of 1992 and that the Company requirements are not the same.
Having considered all the information supplied the Court recommends that the employees agree procedures for the future and that the Company in return pay a lump sum equal to one week's pay.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd December, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.