INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
THERMO KING (EUROPE) LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Claim for an increase in the Christmas bonus.
2. Thermo King is involved in the design, manufacture, and distribution of transport temperature control equipment, mainly for the export market. It employs 1000 people in Ireland, with 650 employees located in Galway.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim for an increase in the Christmas bonus which is paid in the form of a voucher to the value of £175. The Union argues that the claim has been on the table since 1995 and that no increase has been applied to the bonus since 1988. The Union is seeking £250.83 bonus from 1998. The Company rejects the claim. It argues that it has taken on the tax liability for the Christmas bonus since 1995 and that this represents a significant advantage for the employees.
The matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference took place on the 29th of September, 1998. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 23rd of October, 1998 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th of December, 1998.
3. 1. The Union is seeking the application to the Christmas bonus of the percentage increases associated with the various national wage agreements since 1988 and that the bonus in future be indexed linked.
2. The Company's commitment to take on the tax liability in 1995 was connected with certain improvements in productivity.
3. The value of the bonus has diminished over the years and if the percentage increases had been applied its current value would be approximately £250. Some companies in the Galway area pay substantially more. In the circumstances the Company should pay the £250 as a goodwill gesture.
4. 1. The annual bonus is covered in the Company/Union agreement. In 1988 agreement was reached between the parties for the current Christmas bonus of 1.75% of salary to be deleted from the agreement and be substituted with a hamper to the approximate value of £175. Any tax liability to be the responsibility of the individual employee.
2. In 1995, the Revenue Commissioners approached the Company in relation to the tax liability on the Christmas vouchers. While it was clear that the liability rested with the individual, the Company agreed to meet the tax liability for the year in respect of the Christmas bonus.
3. The Company as a goodwill gesture has continued this for the years since. This represents a significant advantage for the employees and has resulted in significant additional costs for the Company. Accordingly, it is not prepared to improve the bonus at this time.
The Court considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties.
The Court is satisfied given the history of this payment that the employees have not been disadvantaged.
The Court, therefore, does not recommend concession of the claim but recommends that this issue be discussed by the parties in future negotiations.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th December, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.