INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
THERMO-KING EUROPE LIMITED (GALWAY)
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Goodwill payment.
2. Thermo-King Europe has its main plant in Galway, with a smaller manufacturing plant in Dublin and a service and distribution depot in Shannon. The Company manufactures transport refrigeration units and has been in Ireland for 21 years. The dispute concerns the Galway plant only.
In late 1997, Thermo-King Corporation globally was sold by its parent Westinghouse to Ingersol Rand for $2.56 billion. There are a total of 13 Thermo-King sites worldwide. The Union's claim is for a goodwill payment to be made to the 500 plus workers in the Galway plant. The Union originally addressed its claim to the previous owners i.e., Westinghouse, when negotiations on the sale in 1997 were being conducted. The claim was rejected. The claim at that time was for £1,500 per worker per year of service. The Union has indicated that the figure could be negotiated.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 19th of February, 1998. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 23rd of April, 1998, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 30th of June, 1998.
3. 1. Over the years, the Company has been awarded numerous awards and quality standards (details supplied to the Court). In 1995, the Galway workforce was told that production levels were running at their highest ever. The reason given was the "huge commitment to quality that has taken place in this plant over the last 18 months to 2 years". The Company has become increasingly successful over the years, and the workers who are responsible for so much of this deserve to share in the profits. When the Thermo-King Corporation was sold last year, the workers had a high expectation of a goodwill payment.
2. The claim is exclusive to the Galway plant on the basis of the contribution made by the workers since the Company was set up. Another company in the Galway area, Joe Higgins Ltd., gave £1,000 per year of service to its workers when the company was sold.
4. 1. The Galway plant is the only one of thirteen world-wide where the workers are making a goodwill claim. The claim as originally proposed would cost the Company approximately £12 million. The Company cannot afford to pay such a figure which would, in effect, be the same as a redundancy claim. If it did concede the claim, other plants would also make similar claims and the cost would be in tens of millions of dollars.
2. There is a share scheme in the Company which workers could have availed of. Shares were on sale at a discounted rate and the scheme was open to everyone.
Having considered the submissions and the arguments presented, the Court is of the view that an equitable way of resolving the dispute and meeting in some way the expectation of the Union members is for the parties to meet and negotiate an improvement in the existing 'Share Purchase Scheme', and also to explore the implementation of partnership as outlined in Chapter 9 of Partnership 2000.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
9th July, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.