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: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Claim by the Union for compensation for inconvenience.
2. The claim results from renovation work carried out on Arnotts city centre outlet. The work has been ongoing for the past three years and is nearing completion. The Company engaged in discussions with the largest union in the store and agreed a compensation package based on the amount of disruption inflicted on each department. Each department was then designated Grade A, B, C for compensation purposes.
A - £400
B - £250
C - £125
Following acceptance by the largest union in the store, the Company proposed the same deal to SIPTU workers. Following local level discussions, management agreed to categorise all SIPTU members as Grade A for compensation purposes entitling them to the maximum £400. This offer was put to the members and rejected. As management was not prepared to exceed the maximum in the deal agreed, the Union, in line with procedures, referred the matter to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 19th of February, 1999. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 22nd of March, 1999. A Court hearing was held on the 9th of June, 1999.
3. 1. The Union's claim is for the payment of £1,000 to each of its members involved. During reconstruction work stockroom workers had to work in totally unsatisfactory conditions (details supplied to the Court).
2. Other workers were involved in the movements of departments. These moves occurred on a regular basis and entailed the movement of stock counters and other fittings often to other floors. During renovations lifts were often out of service, and in the goods inwards area workers had to endure fumes from vehicles and other equipment used by the builders. Workers eventually were given masks to wear. The area could only be described as a building site as scaffolding and other equipment was scattered about.
3. The Company's offer of £400 per worker is not acceptable as it is an insufficient offer in view of the disruption and inconvenience endured by the workers. Concession of the claim would cost the Company £30,000 which amounts to £6.64 per week for the duration of the agreement. Other companies have compensated their staff in similar situations and one company pays its workers £12.50 per week for the duration of any renovation or redecoration.
4. 1. In assessing the inconvenience claims, the Company evaluated the level of disturbance and arrived at three different categories of compensation. These three categories reflect the nature and extent of the inconvenience caused in each area and compensation is paid accordingly. The Company resisted the notion of a blanket payment to all staff regardless of the level of inconvenience caused. Management believe that this is the proper way to deal with claims of this nature.
2. The union representing 80% of the staff in Arnotts has accepted this offer as fair and reasonable. Its members have been paid at the various levels of compensation depending on the inconvenience. This is in contrast to the General Operatives who have all been offered Category A payment of £400.
3. The Category A payment of £400 is the highest amount of compensation paid for inconvenience. All of the SIPTU members have been offered the maximum amount of compensation available. In deciding on the Category the Company took all of the Unions' arguments on board when assessing what Category of compensation they should receive. The Company is strongly of the view that the SIPTU claim is not warranted as the highest compensation Category has been offered to its members.
4. Concession of this claim will lead to knock-on claims from other unions which will significantly increase costs for the Company.
5. The Company believes its offer is in line with best practice and is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.
The Court notes that the maximum amount of compensation payable at Category A, in the Company's proposal is significantly above that paid in respect of similar disruption in analogous employments. While accepting that those placed in each of the categories were affected by the reconstruction to a greater or lesser degree than others within the same category, the Court considers that the level of compensation offered to the claimants adequately reflects the inconvenience which they suffered.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th June, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.