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. Improvement in pay.
2. Bitech Engineering is an electrical appliance manufacturing Company and is part of the Glen Dimplex Group. The Company is based in Dunleer, Co. Louth. The manufacturing operations include press shops, metal fabrication, painting, enamelling and assembly lines. Within the factory floor area the Company employs 385 people, all of whom are members of SIPTU.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of the workers for an increase in pay. It argues that the basic rate of pay is low by comparison with other engineering companies and that its request to discuss the introduction of a profit share scheme has been refused. The Company rejects the claim. Its position is that the claim is cost increasing and in breach of Partnership 2000 but has indicated that it would be prepared to have the bonus scheme examined with a view to making it more of an incentive for the workers.
The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. Agreement was not reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 20th of October, 1999 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th of November, 1999.
3. 1. The rates of pay are out of line with the industry generally. In many cases the Family Income Supplement is paid to workers employed by the Company because of the low wages paid.
2. Many of the workforce have been employed by the Company since it commenced its operation in 1978 and have given loyal service during periods when a high degree of seasonality existed and lay-offs were regular.
3. Glen Dimplex has a turnover of over £400 million and its value is estimated at upwards of £250 million. Bitech as a manufacturer of high value products with a large profit margin has made a considerable contribution to the group's profits.
4. The Company's failure to recognise the contribution made by the workforce has affected morale in the plant.
5. The Union welcomes the Company's statement that it is prepared to have a joint examination of the bonus scheme, but this exercise will take some considerable time and will not solve the workers' problem of basic pay.
4. 1. The Company has honoured the terms of Partnership 2000, the final payment of 1% was paid on the 1st of October, 1999. Under this agreement which expires in March, 2000, the Union is prohibited from making any cost increasing claims. This claim is cost increasing and clearly outside of the agreement.
2. The competitive market within which the Company operates prevents it passing on any increase to the customer, without losing its business.
3. It is argued that the Company's rates of pay are lower than average for the heavy engineering sector. The Company disputes this on the comparison figures from companies within the North Eastern Region, which confirms that its basic pay rate of £190.68 is comparable to other employers and favourable when average earnings are considered.
4. In the past year general improvements in facilities for employees have been made at a cost of £135,000 and the employer's contribution to the pension scheme has been increased by 1% with a further 1% in the next financial year.
5. The Company considers that the only positive response to the Union's claim is a review of the bonus system. It is prepared to have the bonus scheme examined by a work study expert with a view to making it more of an incentive to the workers.
The oral and written submissions of the parties have been considered by the Court.
As the claim for an increase in pay is outside the terms of Partnership 2000, the Court is not in a position to recommend such an increase.
However, the Court recommends that a revision of yields from the bonus scheme, should be carried out as a matter of urgency by a work study expert. The Court recommends that information on this review should be given to the Union as soon as it becomes available. It was indicated to the Court that the study could take eight to twelve weeks.
The claim before the Court for the introduction of gain sharing/profit sharing schemes should be at least examined in the context of the spirit of chapter nine of Partnership 2000. The Court is of the view that if structured properly, gain sharing/profit sharing schemes can be of benefit to all sides. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the Company should reconsider its position with regard to the introduction of such schemes.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th November, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.