INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CLERY AND COMPANY (1941) PLC
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. (1) Pension contributions; (2) Productivity payment.
2. In 1996, the Company and the Union reached agreement under Clause 3 of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP) which provided for extended trading/Sunday trading.
The Company claims that extended trading was vital for its business. New shopping centres such as Jervis Street and Blanchardstown had introduced extended trading and they had to respond in order to safeguard business and protect the employment of existing staff.
Under the 1996 agreement the Company proposed to "red circle" staff employed prior to the 1st of September, 1996, in relation to a productivity payment of £18.48 per week. However, staff employed after this date would not qualify for this payment. Similar "red-circling" would apply in relation to the non-contributory pension plan. However, staff employed after 1st of September, 1996 would have to make a 5% contribution towards their pension entitlements.
The Union claims that it did not accept the pension and productivity element of the 1996 agreement and states that it could not accept a two-tier system for its members. It claims that the Company should drop its proposals in relation to the pension and productivity issues. There are approximately sixty workers affected by the productivity payment and ten affected by the pension issue.
As no agreement was possible between the parties, the dispute was referred to the Conciliation Service of the Labour Relations Commission. Conciliation conferences were held on the 15th of September, 1997, and the 1st of September, 1998, but no agreement was reached.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 13th of October, 1998 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 13th of January, 1999, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Company is in breach of the 1996 Company/Union agreement by implementing changes without having exhausted the agreed procedures.
2. The Union entered into negotiations with management in an atmosphere of partnership, trust and co-operation.
3. The Union cannot accept a two-tier system for its members as proposed by the Company.
4. The financial position of the Company has vastly improved since the 1996 Agreement.
5. The cost to the Company in relation to the pension and productivity claim is small and should be conceded.
4. 1. The Company had to seek to reduce costs in order to remain competitive.
2. The Union was aware that the Company was issuing new contracts of employment for staff recruited after the 1st of September, 1996.
3. The Company has created an additional twenty-five permanent positions as a result of "red circling" the payments in relation to the pension and productivity schemes.
4. If the 1996 Agreement had not gone through the Company would have been forced to introduce redundancies.
5. It is almost 2½ years since this agreement was implemented and during this time the issue of productivity and pension was not raised by those concerned.
The Court has carefully considered the submissions made by the parties and the other information supplied in the course of the hearing.
The Court has examined the Union's claims on their merits and by reference to rates and conditions in comparable employments. This reveals that the rates and conditions now in dispute are in line with those negotiated and agreed in recent times with other comparable outlets in the distributive trade.
On that basis the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claims.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th February, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.