INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH PRINTING FEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Withdrawal of bus facility.
2. In 1989/1990 the Company introduced a double day shift in the folding and bindery departments. It provided a bus to transport the workers to and from work as the shift hours were from 6.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. In September, 1997, the Company announced that, due to severe financial pressures, it would not be able to incur the cost of the bus in 1998. The Company offered to pay half of the cost of the bus for the staff for six months or, alternatively, to change the shift times to suit public transport.
The Union rejected the Company's proposals and the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached at conciliation, both parties agreed to refer the issue to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The workers voted for strike action but deferred it until all industrial relations procedures are exhausted. The Labour Court investigated the dispute on the 2nd of June, 1998.
3. 1. The transport facility, which is availed of by 19 staff, is regarded as an essential condition of their employment. Its removal would force the staff concerned to use taxis or to reach a private agreement with the current bus owner. The cost could be as much as 10% of basic pay.
2. A number of the staff concerned accepted employment with the Company on the understanding that transport would be provided. The withdrawal of the facility would render it impossible for them to fulfil their contracts of employment and they would have to leave the company.
3. Many of the Company's competitors have reached agreement with the Union to minimise costs and to provide transport for their employees. The Company's proposal to change the shift times would not be acceptable to the workers who do not avail of the bus service as it would disrupt their domestic arrangements.
4. 1. Since 1996 the Company's biggest customer has forced the Company to reduce the cost of printing computer manuals by 43%. Another company was unable to compete and 70 jobs were lost.
2. In order to remain competitive the Company has had to reduce its expenditure and has tried to secure cost reductions from its suppliers. The cost of the transport facility is a significant cost to the Company which can no longer be incurred.
3. The Company has offered to pay half of the cost of the bus for 6 months or, if this is not acceptable, to move the shifts forward. The current bus owner has offered to provide the service to the workers for £2 per round trip or £10 per week.
4. During the past 18 difficult months the Company has honoured all national wage agreements. The Company faces another cost reduction in June, 1999, when its current contract expires but will endeavour to maintain the jobs of all of its staff.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, and on the basis of the evidence submitted, the Court has concluded that the question of the "bus facility" should be resolved by the parties meeting and negotiating on the various options available. These include shift changes, buy out and/or joint funding.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th June, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.