INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Compensation for loss of earnings arising from a temporary reduction from 4-shift to 3-shift working.
2. In April, 1997, the Company advised the Union that it had no option but to reduce production and, accordingly, was forced to introduce 3-shift working in place of 4-shift working. The 3-shift working commenced on the 12th of May, 1997 and ended on the 12th of September, 1997. It resulted in the staff concerned (20 of a workforce of 90) being laid-off 1 week in every 4 and also in a reduction of shift premium from 33.33% to 20%. The Union is seeking compensation for loss of earnings quantified at £75 per week. The claim was rejected by the Company and the dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. The Union has expressed the opinion that the lay-off was not necessary from a business point of view but that it was an act of retaliation by the Company following the "loss" of a previous Labour Court case concerning the use of concealed cameras in the premises. The Company's position is that it is its policy not to compensate for periods of temporary lay-off. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 5th of August, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation, in Cork, on the 25th of February, 1998, the earliest offered date suitable to both parties.
3. 1. The workers involved are permanent members of staff whose service ranges from 8 to 13 years. Their net losses amount to approximately £1,000 each plus annual leave.
2. The Union and the workers would have no objection in principle to the temporary lay-off in the event of the Company experiencing temporary business difficulties. However, it is the Union's belief that the Company's action was deliberate and retaliatory. The Company has increased the workforce by 30% in a relatively short period since the lay-offs and is still recruiting.
4. 1. The Company has to respond to difficulties when they arise periodically in its markets abroad. In these situations the management has to take whatever economic actions are necessary to protect its competitive position. That is what occurred on this occasion. The temporary shift changes were, therefore, essential actions in the interest of the Company and its employees.
2. The Court is being asked to endorse the principle of compensation for temporary loss. The practice of the Court in this regard has always been that permanent loss may be compensated for but not temporary loss.
3. The employees concerned and the Union representatives were fully consulted about the temporary change in advance of its being implemented and through the efforts of management the temporary period of lay-off was minimised.
4. The Union's allegations about the Company's action being retaliatory are rejected. The claim for compensation is a stand alone case arising from unavoidable lay-offs due to trading difficulties.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, the Court is satisfied that it would not be justified in recommending concession of the Union's claim for compensation for loss of earnings fortemporarylay-off.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th March, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.