SECTION 28(1), ORGANISATION OF WORKING TIME ACT, 1997
BORD NA MONA
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against the Rights Commissioner's decision WT 370/98/GF.
2. The dispute concerns 24 general operatives employed at Croghan Briquette Factory, Co. Offaly, on a 4 cycle 12 hour shift pattern. The Union is seeking that the workers are provided with rest periods in accordance with the provision as outlined in Section 12 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, (1997) (the Act). This would involve the workers taking rest breaks away from their work stations during their shifts. The factory at Croghan operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The Company believes that, under the Act, this is a situation which is covered under Statutory Instrument SI 21/98, which covers exemptions from the provisions of the Act in regard to the daily rest period.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner and his findings and recommendation are as follows:
"I have considered the submission very carefully and I have come to the conclusion that the employees are directly involved in ensuring continuity of service and production. Therefore, I believe the Company are exempted under the Statutory Instrument SI/21/98.
I have decided the claim is not well founded and therefore it fails.
However, I am strongly supportive of the view that the focus of discussions should be in regard to the provisions outlined in the Code of Practice on compensatory rest periods issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment."
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 1st of April, 1999, in accordance with Section 28(1) of the Working Time Act, 1997. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th of June, 1999.
1. An informal practice had existed for many years whereby supervisory staff relieved the general operatives for rest periods. This dismisses the Company's argument that because the factory is a continuous process it is exempt from Section 12 of the Act under SI 21/98.
2. Under agreement between the ICTU group of Unions and the Bord, it was agreed that the rest arrangements would be in line with the statutory requirements.
3. Various local arrangements exist in other briquette factories regarding the provision of rest periods.
1. There is ample scope for the workers to take all necessary breaks.
2. There are 2 other briquette factories represented by the Union which have no problems with rest periods.
3. Not all of the general operatives were relieved by management in the past. The boiler man, whose job is the most skillful, was the person mainly relieved.
The Court upholds the Rights Commissioner's recommendation, and thereby rejects the Union's appeal.
However, as the Company stated in its submission that it fully accepts the Rights Commissioner's findings, the Court determines that discussions take place as soon as possible between the parties on how breaks can be implemented for the claimants. These discussion will need to comply with the provisions of SI 21/98, which allow the employer to vary the terms of Section 12 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, as long as compensatory rest is provided as required under Section 6 (1) of the Act. The Code of Practice on Compensatory Rest Periods should be used as a guide in the discussions.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd June, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Determination should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.