INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SPRING GROVE SERVICES (IRELAND) LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute concerning the application of a bonus.
2. The Company has two plants at Ballsbridge and Cabinteely and employs 140 workers. The dispute concerns workers at the Ballsbridge plant. The Company took over Initial Services in 1992. Workers employed by Initial Services in Ballsbridge had been in receipt of a bonus based on service of 1/10th of a week's pay for each year of service up to a maximum of 10 years when a full week's wage is available as a bonus. Spring Grove Services continued the bonus for staff already employed but discontinued it for new recruits. The Union objected to this and claimed that the payment should be applied to workers at Ballsbridge who qualified for the bonus. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 1st April, 1998. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 22nd May, 1998. A Court hearing was held on the 22nd June, 1998.
3. 1. The bonus entitlement has been a condition of employment in the Company over many years. The Union understood that at the time of the take-over the present employer would continue to honour the existing conditions of employment.
2. A number of workers at the Ballsbridge plant have qualified for the bonus payments, however the Company has refused to pay them. The issue has been raised with Management on numerous occasions without success. It is causing significant dissension among workers.
3. The Union does not understand why the Company excludes workers in the Ballsbridge plant from this benefit, particularly as it continues to operate it in other areas where workers receive bonus payments as they qualify for them.
4. The Union seeks the continuation of the bonus payments to workers as they qualify. If the Company wishes to discuss pay rates, or other issues, these can be negotiated through normal procedures.
4. 1. Workers at the Ballsbridge and Cabinteely sites have different sets of terms and conditions of employment. When the Union raised the bonus issue management proposed that the issue would best be resolved in the context of negotiations on the harmonisation of terms and conditions of employment. On two occasions the Company has put proposals to the Union on the issue.
2. To simply concede the Union's claim would widen the already existing gap in rates of pay between workers at both sites.
3. The combined issues of bonus and harmonisation were both long standing and contentious. The Company has moved considerably away from its position of seeking overall harmonisation of conditions between the two plants, to seeking agreement on the rates of pay for new entrants, in return for what amounts to conceding the Union's claim in full. Both Union and Company have agreed to such an approach at the Cork plant.
4. There is a financial cost to the Company in conceding the Union's claim which entitles the Company to seek concessions from the Union to defray the cost. The concession sought by the Company does not impact on workers currently employed, and it does not necessarily follow that all new workers would be worse off under the Company's proposed rates of pay.
The Company accepts that an agreement existed in Initial Services to pay this bonus as part of the conditions of employment, even though the actual agreement has not been seen by the Company.
It is the Court's view that as this agreement existed, it cannot be put aside without negotiation between the parties, and it is clear this has not happened.
The Court therefore recommends that the Company pay these claimants the bonus and that the parties enter into negotiations on the issues raised by the Company.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th June, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.