INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Bonus payment.
2. The Company is the largest cash and carry operation in Ireland. At present it has eight branches nationwide, employing in excess of 500 people.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Union's claim on behalf of approximately 60 workers employed at the Company's Cork depot for an increase of £12 per week retrospective to the 1st of January, 1995.
For some years the Union/Company have been engaged in discussions on the subject of the introduction of a bonus scheme. The Irish Productivity Centre carried out a study but its proposals were rejected by both parties.
In the meantime the Company decided to extend the discussions to include other branches. Eventually it was decided to look at other methods of rewarding staff for productivity and an offer of £8 per week plus 2% under the terms of Partnership 2000 was made. This offer was accepted by workers employed in Dublin but rejected in Cork. The Union's claim is for £12 per week exclusive of Partnership 2000.
The matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 13th of January, 1998. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 11th of March, 1998 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Cork on the 1st of July, 1998.
3. 1. The workers' claim for the introduction of a bonus scheme was initiated in 1993 and pursued vigorously over the intervening period. The claim by the Dublin members only materialised in 1997.
2. The Union rejects the Company's attempt to impose the offer of £8 plus 2% on the basis of its acceptance by the workers in Dublin.
3, The Company had the opportunity to deal with the rates of pay at national level but refused to do so as stated in its letter of the 2nd of April, 1997 (details supplied).
4, The workers have co-operated with many changes introduced since 1993 which resulted in increased productivity and flexibility on the understanding that the Company was committed to the payment of a productivity related bonus.
5. The workers are seeking an increase of £12 per week exclusive of Partnership 2000 in return for their co-operation with one person check-outs, a 7.00 a.m. start, earlier than other branches, a new procedure for cashing cheques and a staff training programme.
6. The Company is extremely competitive and has recorded major profits both locally and nationally. The proposed changes would result in substantial savings to the Company and would more than offset the Union's claim.
4. 1. The Company cannot see a way of rewarding the Cork staff for the fact that the issue originated with them, without causing a series of knock-on claims for parity within the other branches.
2. The Company normally negotiates with branches independently, however, this issue is company-wide and needed the same level of response from staff in all branches. Therefore, it does not provide the Company with a mechanism for differentiating between branches.
3. The rate negotiated and accepted in Dublin is a fair rate for the productivity asked for in return, and as such any further claim would be a cost increasing one, prohibited by Partnership 2000.
4. The current rates of pay and conditions of employment are fair and reasonable and compare well in both a retailing and a wholesaling environment.
5. The workers enjoy a Chairman's bonus at Christmas which is £250 per person, profit share for all staff with 5 years service, and a non-contributory pension backdated after five years service for all permanent members of staff. In the circumstances it is unreasonable for the Union to ask the Company to negotiate a different rate, to an existing deal, for workers employed in Cork.
The Court notes the stated position of the Company that all savings arising from additional flexibility/productivity should accrue to the staff by way of pay increases. In that regard it is accepted that the introduction of 7.00 a.m. opening at the Cork outlet has not been evaluated and taken into account by the Company in putting forward its proposal for a £12 increase inclusive of the 2% payable under Partnership 2000.
The Court considers the agreement on early morning opening to be a significant additional element which if evaluated should provide a basis for an additional increase to staff at the Cork store, above that which may be justified at other locations.
The Court therefore recommends that the parties recommence negotiations on this element of the Union's claim as soon as possible.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th July, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.