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 Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Pay increase.
2. The Company has been in operation since December, 1993, and is involved in the assembly and manufacture of electronic circuit boards. The Company supplies one customer, Pioneer, which is based in the UK. There are approximately 100 workers who are employed as assembly operators involved in the claim. The Union is seeking an increase of at least £10 per week per worker. The basic pay rate for assembly operators is £157.74 per week.
In 1996, the Company eliminated the job of the three repair operators in the factory. Their work is now done by the assembly operators. In 1997, the Union met with the Company on a number of occasions to discuss the introduction of a form of gain-share but no progress was made. The Union then sought an increase in basic pay but this was rejected by the Company. The Company introduced a defined contribution pension scheme on the 1st of November, 1997, and has proposed a VHI scheme for all permanent employees.
The issue was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 29th of November, 1997. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 17th of December, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th of May, 1998, in Mullingar.
3. 1. The assembly operators' rate of pay is low compared to similar occupations in the industry. The Company has saved over £500 per week with the elimination of three repair operator jobs. This is money which should be shared between the employer and the workers concerned.
2. The claim is not precluded under the terms of Partnership 2000. Because of the savings on the three repair operator jobs it is not cost-increasing The workers now do the duties of the repair operators themselves. There has been a considerable increase in productivity by the workers in the last few years.
3. Whilst the introduction of the VHI is a good idea, it would be of little real benefit to the workers. The introduction of a form of gain-share would be more beneficial.
4. 1. The claim is cost-increasing and is precluded by Clause 6 of Partnership 2000. The rate of pay of £157.74 per week is not out of line with comparators in the industry. The cost of conceding the Union's claim would be £81,800 per year, a cost the Company could not sustain.
2. The increase in work as a result of the elimination of the repair operator's jobs is minimal and cannot justify the claim. If the Company was to concede the claim, it would seriously damage its competitiveness.
3. The Company introduced a pension scheme in November, 1997, at a cost of £29,400 per annum. It is also prepared to introduce a VHI scheme and pay the full cost which would amount to £40,219 per annum in respect of permanent employees.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions, finds that the Union's claim is in breach of Clause 6 of Partnership 2000. The Court, therefore, rejects the claim.
The Court, however, recommends that the parties meet to discuss how a gain-sharing scheme, as discussed at the hearing, might be introduced into the Company.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th May, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.