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. (1) Company name. (2) Christmas bonus.
2. The Company employs 76 demonstration staff who are engaged in the promotion and demonstration of products within the Superquinn supermarket chain. Management states that the demonstration staff are employed by Highlighters Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Superquinn Group, which was established in 1990. The Union contends that Superquinn has been the named employer on all official documents such as P60s and P45s up to April, 1996, when the employer's name then appeared on some documents as Highlighters Limited. The Union's claim is that Superquinn is the employer and, as such, its name should be re-inserted on all official documentation. The Union is also seeking payment of a Christmas bonus on behalf of the demonstration staff of one week's basic pay, which is paid to other staff employed by Superquinn
The issues in dispute were the subject of local negotiations and of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the 25th of March, 1998. As agreement was not possible the issues were referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 5th of June, 1998.
3. 1. Highlighters Limited is fully integrated in every way into the operational structure of Superquinn. The Managing Director of Highlighters is also the Marketing Director of Superquinn, while the Personnel Manager occupies the same position in both companies. All personnel, industrial relations and salary functions are carried out by the same staff.
2. Superquinn has clear responsibilities and obligations to staff employed as demonstrators. It was the named employer on all official documentation for 6 years, while correspondence concerning Highlighter issues has regularly been received from the Company on Superquinn headed paper. It cannot be stated that the role performed by Superquinn since 1990 was merely an administrative error.
3. In November, 1995, the staff concerned agreed to a rationalisation deal which resulted in major cost savings for the company. They did not pursue their claim for a Christmas bonus on the understanding that the claim would be re-visited when economic circumstances permitted. In the light of Superquinn's soaring turnover, the contribution made by the staff concerned to its overall success should now be duly recognised and suitably rewarded.
4. 1. The demonstrators are directly employed under contract by Highlighters Limited which is a separate legal entity from Superquinn. Their terms and conditions of employment are separate and distinct from the other companies in the Superquinn Group, they are the best in the demonstration industry and they were negotiated and agreed with the Union.
2. Superquinn has provided managerial and administrative help to Highlighters Limited with wages and personnel issues in order to reduce costs in a highly competitive industry. In all other aspects Highlighters manages and administers its own affairs. Highlighters operates on a stand alone basis and it stands or falls on its own accounts.
3. The demonstrators' terms and conditions of employment are in line with best practice in the industry. They receive a competitive hourly rate of pay, have pension and sick pay schemes and are guaranteed a minimum of 30 weeks' work per year, which is not the norm in the industry. The Union's claim for payment of a Christmas bonus is a cost increasing claim which is precluded under the terms of Partnership 2000.
The Court recognises that there was a genuinely held misconception as to who the employer was in this case. On the evidence submitted the Court must accept that Highlighters Limited is a separate legal entity and separately registered. Accordingly, the Court finds that Highlighters Limited is the employer. The Court urges the employer to adopt a less casual attitude to correspondence in the future.
With regard to the claim for a Christmas bonus, the Court is bound by the terms of Partnership 2000.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the claim for a week's bonus be conceded when the said agreement expires.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th June, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.