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: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning: Service pay, time keeping bonus, ISO 9000 pay.
2. The Company is engaged in the production of carburettors for two-stroke engines. Its core production is used on small two-stroke handheld power equipment i.e., chainsaws strimmers etc. The Company employs 177 workers. The Union's claims were first made in March, 1998. These are detailed as follows:-
The Company's existing service pay arrangements are as follows:
Rate per week
Over 5 years - 10 years £0.50p
Over 10 years - 15 years £1.00
Over 15 years - 20 years £2.00
Over 20 years £3.00
The Union claims a doubling of each of the service payments and the extension of the service arrangement up to 30 years service.
2. Time Keeping Bonus:
The Union claims that the application of such a bonus would encourage better attendance.
3. ISO 9000:
The Union claims that the Company should give some form of monetary recognition to the workers for their co-operation in obtaining this status.
The Company rejected the claims on the grounds of cost and their preclusion as cost increasing claims under Partnership 2000. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 1st of September, 1998. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 19th of October, 1998. A Court hearing was held in Tralee on the 13th of April, 1999.
3. 1. Service pay should have been increased in line with the movement in basic pay increases and should be extended to cover service over and above 20 years service. There are a wide range of employments (details supplied to the Court) where service pay is applicable for in excess of 20 years. There is no reason why this Company could not apply similar schemes.
2. The Company has refused to address the issue of the attendance bonus yet it is one of great concern to workers. The workers feel very strongly that because they are on a flat basic wage, the Company should give serious consideration to the introduction of an attendance payment scheme in line with those which apply in many other companies (details supplied to the Court). They play an important part of the appreciation by the Company of workers' good attendance and it would enhance the Company's reputation further if it were to be seen to introduce such a scheme.
3. The workers feel quite justifiably that, by the changes which they have given in work practices and by their co-operation with the Company in endeavouring to achieve the ISO 9000 award, the Company has not treated them fairly. Many companies have given, payments to their workers ranging from tokens to ongoing payments for workers co-operation in achieving the ISO 9000 standard. This Company is unique in not having made such a payment.
4. 1. The Company is not in a financial position to make any adjustments to the existing service pay system. It cannot make adjustments to its current labour cost structure outside the terms of Partnership 2000. The Company sells its product below cost and it is only on its aftersales support service that it expects to make profit.
2. The plant has no problems relating to staff turnover and management categorically rejects the claim for introduction of a time keeping bonus. It does not have time keeping/attendance which would warrant such payments.
3. There is no substance to the Union's claim for a payment to workers arising from the introduction of the ISO 9000 standard. This is an essential customer requirement without which the Company would not be able to market its product. The Company in a once off gesture at Christmas 1997 gave each worker a Christmas hamper in recognition of the Company's accreditation with this standard
4. The Company faces huge competition from low labour cost countries and is at a major competitive disadvantage in this regard. The Company has experienced a significant downturn in sales and in the recent past has lost a major customer. Profit margins are low and labour is a major component of costs. The Company has been forced to introduce extended periods of short-time working in recent years.
5. The Company pays very competitive wage rates to its workers and it has a sick pay scheme, defined benefit pension scheme and pays a Christmas bonus.
The Court has given consideration to the written and oral submissions made by the parties. Due to the severe financial difficulties of the Company, the Court does not recommend concession of these claims at this particular point in time. It is noted by the Court that the Company gave a commitment to the terms of Partnership 2000.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th April, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.