INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH TAR AND BITUMEN SUPPLIES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
MARINE, PORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. The Company was established in 1938 and is engaged in the distribution of bitumen products. In November, 1995, the Company put forward restructuring proposals which included the elimination of a works foreman position, the creation of new shift leader positions, the contracting out of boat discharging and specialist maintenance work and yard staff carrying out basic maintenance operations. The Company also proposed to eliminate overtime and historic allowances and to introduce performance-related bonus payments.
The proposals were the subject of several working party meetings during 1996 and in 1997 the issue was referred to the conciliation service of the Labour Relations Commission. A number of conciliation meetings were held and in July, 1997, the Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) put forward a proposal for consideration which was rejected by the Union. The parties agreed to refer the issue to the Labour Court in November, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 11th of February, 1998, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The yard staff are prepared to implement change and to maximise efficiency in all areas provided that a guaranteed level of weekly earnings for shift operatives and shift leaders of £514 and £526 respectively is agreed.
2. Clearly defined maximum/minimum hours of work should be agreed. Previously the Company required staff to work exceptional overtime hours and to be on standby to off-load ships in the shortest possible time. The Company's stated requirement that yard staff will be expected to work a maximum of an additional 325 hours per year will not be sufficient to complete all the operation requirements.
3. Any requirement for redundancy or early retirement must be dealt with purely on a voluntary basis.
4. 1. The Company proposals, which reward efficiency rather than time spent at the plant, are the only way to maintain current levels of employment for the future. They will produce a more direct and transparent link between earnings and through-put. They should reduce the hours worked and should meet the restrictions on average hours imposed by the Working Time Act.
2. The Company has proposed an increase of 4.7% in basic pay which is generous compared with remuneration for similar work elsewhere. Yard staff will also be empowered to organise their work in the most efficient manner possible which will create a real opportunity for partnership within the company to grow and develop.
3. The Company has continued to invest in the plant by installing and upgrading new systems which further automate the plant. This investment is proving successful in increasing both standards and efficiency and will reduce working hours in the future.
The Court notes that the Company's proposals, which remain in contention between the parties, are based on certain projections as to the earning potential of staff under the new pay structure and the requirement to work additional hours. From the submissions made it appears that if those projections are correct the concerns expressed by the Union will be overcome.
In the Court's view the best means of testing the accuracy or otherwise of those projections is to operate the new arrangements and for the parties to jointly monitor their effect.
The Court, therefore, recommends as follows;
1. The pay structure with the amendment proposed at paragraphs 3 & 4 of the IRO's letter of 16th July, 1997, be accepted.
2. The assurance that the requirement for additional unpaid hours will not exceed 325 per year be accepted.
3. The parties agree arrangements for a joint annual review of the operation of the new arrangements in each of the next three years. Such reviews should address any disparity which may emerge in the underlying projections on which the proposals are based.
The Court would also draw attention to the obligation of the parties to ensure that the new arrangements conform fully to the requirements of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 with particular regard to maximum working hours, rest periods and the calculation of pay for annual leave and public holidays. Any adjustments necessary to meet these statutory requirements should also be made to the draft agreement.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
9th March, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.