INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
KEY TECH PRODUCTS LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Union recognition.
2. The Company, which is based in Limerick, has been in operation since 1994 and is involved in the assembly of wire and cable harnesses for the electronic industry, targeting, initially, computer manufacturers with bases in Ireland. The Company has expanded to achieve a global presence, in Malaysia, China, Europe and the United States. The Company's workforce has increased from 88 at the end of 1994 to approximately 200 at the end of 1997.
The dispute concerns a claim by the Union for negotiating rights on behalf of the "substantial" number of Company employees who applied for, and were accepted into membership of the Union. The claim was rejected by the Company on the grounds that workers who had joined the Union were not significant in number and that the Company has always maintained an open communication and consultative process with all employees. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 15th of September, 1998, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court commenced its investigation at a hearing in, Limerick, on the 8th of October, 1998. The hearing was adjourned, at the request of the Company due to the unavailability of key personnel and was resumed, in Limerick, on the 25th of November, 1998.
3. 1. In early 1998, a substantial number of permanent employees in the Company joined the Union. They expressed the wish to be represented in all aspects of their conditions of employment by the Union.
2. Over the years, the Union has developed strong and healthy relationships with various employers and the Union fully recognises both the changing nature of work and the global intensification of competition. The Union has been party to total flexibility agreements based, not on the old adversarial model of industrial relations, but through a partnership process of shared responsibility. The Union has a proven track record in dealing professionally and proactively with employees in such industries as the electronics sub-contractor sector, where this Company operates.
3. The Union is committed to the role of endeavouring to foster the best possible industrial relations climate for industry in the Limerick area.
4. A range of matters require to be addressed by the Union and the Company, including wages, shift work premium, sick-pay benefit scheme, pension scheme and overtime rates. Additionally, workers are frustrated at the lack of representation on matters of discipline.
5. The Union wishes to assert its right to recognition and the right of its members to the freedom to associate. The Supreme Court recently referred to the constitutional right of workers to join, or not join, a trade union as being well-established in Irish law and, additionally, that the right of employers to disassociate from trade unions may not be as well-founded legally as has been believed up to now.
6. Subsequent to the main body of permanent workers joining the Union, approaches have been made by other workers expressing their wish to be represented. There is, accordingly, a continuing trend of workers in the Company wishing to be represented by the Union.
4. 1. The Union has endeavoured to create a situation whereby the Company is perceived to be denying a majority of its workers their right to representation by a union, namely SIPTU, and claims that a majority of the workforce has joined the Union. The Company's information is that there is nothing like a majority of the workforce who are members of any union, let alone SIPTU, and that the true intent of SIPTU is to seek to recruit new members.
2. The Union presents a scenario that the Company does not have the best interests of all its employees at the core of its management policies and practices and that the Company ignores and is unwilling to implement progressive, all-inclusive new policies and procedures for the betterment of all employees. This is a misrepresentation of the facts, and the Company condemns such an attack on its reputation, its achievement to date, and the skill, dedication and loyalty of all its employees.
3. There is no wish of any significant percentage of the Company's employees to be represented by SIPTU or any union.
4. The Company is progressive, indigenous, young and Irish, locally-owned and managed, and dedicated to the health, welfare, safety and prosperity of all its employees.
5. The Company operates in a tough competitive market, serving the sub-contract needs of predominately US multinationals based in Ireland. These customers openly prefer not to deal with unionised sub-contractors and, at a time when the Company is striving to win global supply contracts with these customers, the current agitation by SIPTU to recruit new members is unacceptable.
6. The Company has embarked on an ambitious plan to add new technologies, with new in-bound technology-based joint venture partners. Current plans are well advanced to position the Company as a unique technology solution-provider to two new world-class customers. The dispute orchestrated by the Union may sabotage these plans and jeopardise the Company's relationship with new technology partners.
The Court considered the oral and written submissions and all the information supplied. The Court is particularly conscious of the business environment and the customer base of the Company concerned.
However, bearing in mind the commitments given by the Union in its written submission, the Court recommends that the Company should recognise the Union on behalf of those employees in its membership.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th January, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.