INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HENRY DENNY & SONS
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Pay rates - Maintenance Section.
2. The Company is involved in the slaughter of pigs and bacon curing activities. It is part of the consumer products division of the Kerry Group and employs 244 people at its plant in Tralee.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of 7 workers employed in the Company's maintenance division. For the past 18 months the Company has been seeking agreement with the general workforce on measures which it considers necessary to maintain competitiveness and protect employment in the Tralee plant. The Union's claim has been subject to lengthy discussions and has been overshadowed by the restructuring negotiations with the general workforce.
The existing pay arrangement is that a 35% fixed bonus is in place on top of the current basic rate of £5.91 per hour for a 39 hour week. On the 8th of March, 1999, arising from local discussions the Company put forward the following proposal:
The basic rate of £5.91 to be increased by 15 % to £6.80 per hour and the fixed bonus to be 20% in addition for a 39 hour week. The Union rejected the proposals. It is seeking a rate of £10.17 per hour.
The matter was the subject of two conciliation conferences held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 29th of October, 1999, under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th of November, 1999.
3. 1. The basic rate of the workers concerned is considerably less than the rate for workers in similar employment in other Kerry Group employments.
2. The Union submitted its claim in March, 1998. At that time it was in negotiations with the Company on cost restructuring and Partnership 2000 issues and it was agreed to hold off on the maintenance claim until matters concerning the overall restructuring programme were dealt with.
3. The Company has acknowledged that the basic rate is low and that there is merit in the Union's claim. In the circumstances the Court is requested to recommend that the basic rate of the workers concerned be brought into line with other maintenance workers employed within the Kerry Group.
4. 1. Geographic factors and proximity to high technology industries determine a need for the Kerry Foods, Shillelagh operation to closely match non-food companies on craft rates. In addition, a comprehensive piece rate system and associated house agreement has been put in place at that plant in the past year. This established leading edge work practices and work systems for the pork industry.
2. An element of the rate at Dennys must involve a fixed bonus or additional payment so that certain quality related items are dealt with by each craftsperson, who must sign off on completion to conform to food safety standards. Furthermore, there is an increasing compliance agenda to be met from the craft group including further training and the maintenance of new monitoring systems. Further additions are likely in these areas into the future. Maintaining a bonus payment system is essential to promote the level of flexibility and co-operation that will continue and probably increase for craftspersons into the future.
3. Management requests that this claim is dealt with in a manner that will not adversely affect its cost base and will not cause difficulties with other groups in the plant. With this in mind, the Company is prepared to implement the terms of its letter of the 8th of March, 1999 (details supplied). The Company made a number of proposals informally to modify the bonus/basic split somewhat further at subsequent conciliation conferences and meetings but these have been rejected by the Union.
4. Any settlement of this dispute requires a clear commitment to work with the ever changing demands of the Company's work environment. The maintenance team must embrace the concept that any improvement granted places a requirement upon them to understand that flexibility and meeting the demands of ongoing change will be an integral part of the maintenance team's work programme into the future.
5. Within the framework of P2000 and its competitive pressures, the Company is seeking no less from the Union and expects that the maintenance personnel will commit to the work programmes and flexibilities requested and required to assist in developing a viable enterprise at Tralee for the future.
The Court has considered all information presented by both sides on the issue in dispute. The Union gave assurances at the Court hearing that there will be no knock on claims as a result of a settlement of this case.
The Court recommends that the interim offer of £7.08 per hour plus a bonus of 15% should be amended. Given the changes already undertaken or agreed to, the Court recommends that an interim payment of £7.20 per hour plus a bonus payment of 15% should be accepted pending completion of the restructuring negotiations which are taking place with the general workforce. This recommendation of an interim payment to the maintenance staff should be paid on a pro rata basis to the helper in the maintenance section on a personal to holder basis.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd December, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.