INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ANTIGEN PHARMACEUTICAL LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning the introduction of a security card system.
2. The Company is involved in the development, production and marketing of generic pharmaceuticals for human consumption. It employs 275 workers. The dispute relates to the Company's decision, on safety and security grounds, to install a security card system for all workers. The Unions agree in principle, but in return for co-operating with the change, seek the elimination of the pay freeze agreed to by the Unions during the last phase of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work in 1988. The Unions also claim compensation for supervisory, laboratory and security staff and the payment of Phase 1 of Partnership 2000 with immediate effect. Management rejected the claims. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 28th of May, 1998. Agreement was not possible. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 7th of January, 1998. A Court hearing was held in Limerick on the 17th of February, 1998.
3. 1. The introduction of the clock-in swipe card system is a major change in existing work practices. It is perceived by workers as a serious threat to the high levels of trust built up over many years.
2. A timescale should be agreed for the elimination of the twelve month pay freeze agreed for the last phase of the PCW and the lifetime of Partnership 2000.
3. The proposed cost of the introduction of the new system could be utilised, in far more beneficial ways, to update health and safety facilities and canteen facilities, for an expanding workforce.
4. The Union's claim for compensation on behalf of supervisors, laboratory and security staff is very reasonable in the context of the major change in the conditions of employment of these workers. The Company's financial position is buoyant and it could easily afford to concede the claim.
5. The Court previously recommended in favour of compensation in a similar case.
4. 1. The Company has stated that the new system will make company operations more efficient and effective. On that basis and in recognition of the additional requirement on MSF members, the Union proposes that the introduction of the security card system be accompanied by the elimination of the pay pause agreed to by the Union in 1988 in which the starting date of the pay round was delayed by twelve months. That agreement was reached in very different economic circumstances for the Company.
2. The 2% local bargaining increase payable under Partnership 2000 should be paid immediately to the workers in recognition of co-operation on this issue.
3. The Union is also seeking to have the requirement that the 3 weeks annual leave be taken as a block in August be reduced or eliminated.
5. 1. The Company is sited adjacent to a busy thoroughfare. It operates a wide variety of shifts in different areas of the plant seven days per week. Workers and visitors are arriving at and leaving the site on an ongoing basis. The Company is obliged to know who is on site. The current system is inadequate and this is of the utmost concern to the Company, in view of the nature of its product.
2. The implementation of the new system is essential on security and health and safety grounds. It involves minimal change and will not generate any additional revenue, rather it will cost the Company £30,000 to implement.
3. Under National Wage Agreements cost increasing claims are precluded. The Company has adhered fully to the agreements. The Unions should do likewise. The Partnership 2000 Agreement also provides for a commitment to co-operate with change and "flexible working methods" for the maintenance of the employment.
4. The Company has applied the terms of National Wage Agreements. It has consolidated shift/bonus payments and recently agreed to generous improvements in the pension scheme.
5. Rates of pay and shift premia are well in line with industry norms. It is reasonable for the Company to expect some reciprocation on the principle of 'partnership'.
The Court is satisfied that the new security system will not impact on employees to a degree which would warrant payment of compensation.
Based on the submissions and arguments made by the parties it appears that an underlying reason for the reluctance of the employees to agree to the change is their perceived grievance with the on-going effect on pay adjustment dates of the pay freeze, agreed at a time when the economic and commercial circumstances of the Company were very different.
In that context, the Court recommends that, as a gesture of goodwill, the Company should agree to bring forward by three months the commencement date of the next and subsequent phases of Partnership 2000.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th February, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.