INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JOHN SISK AND SON LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY FEDERATION)
- AND -
BUILDING AND ALLIED TRADES UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. (a) Re-employment; (b) Bonus; (c) Compensation for loss of earnings.
2. The dispute before the Court concerns seven carpenters employed by the Company at its Abbey Street site. The work on this site was completed on the 14th of December, 1998 and on the 23rd of December, 1998 the workers concerned were laid-off.
The Union is seeking a commitment from the Company that its members will be re-employed when further work becomes available. It is looking for an agreement similar to that negotiated for bricklayers.
The Company states that it could not offer the carpenters the same type of agreement as secured by the bricklayers because there was always a certain amount of sub-contracting work involved in the carpentry division.
The Company agreed to pay a productivity bonus of £100 per week up to the 14th of December, 1998 when work on the site was to be completed. The Union argues that the bonus was paid up to the 14th of December, 1998 while the employees were still employed up to the 24th of December, 1998.
It claims that the Company without consultation or agreement terminated the bonus scheme. The Union wants the bonus scheme restored.
Compensation for loss of earnings;
The Union claims that the workers concerned should be compensated for loss of earnings because (a) the Company had work for them; (b) negotiations were still in progress; (c) the "status quo" should have prevailed until all procedures had been exhausted.
The Company rejects the Union's claim for compensation for loss of earnings because the workers concerned were no longer employed by the Company.
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 14th of January, 1999 and the 29th of January, 1999. The Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) put forward proposals to resolve the matter but these were subsequently rejected by the members.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 2nd of February, 1999 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 3rd of March, 1999.
3. 1. The Union wants a commitment form the Company that its members will be re-employed when alternative work becomes available
2. The Union is seeking an agreement similar to that agreed by the Company with the bricklayers.
4. 1. The Company has given a commitment when recruiting carpenters on a direct employment basis that the carpenters concerned in this dispute would be considered for further work when it became available.
2. The Company is unable to offer the carpenters the same type of agreement to that offered to the bricklayers.
5. 1. The Company terminated the bonus scheme without any consultation or agreement with the Union.
2. A comprehensive bonus scheme is currently in operation at another of the Company's sites.
3. The Company has refused to take bonus payments into account for the purpose of calculating Holiday Pay.
6. 1. The Company agreed to pay a bonus on the Abbey Street site up until the 14th of December, 1998 when work on the site was completed.
2. The bonus was paid in accordance with the agreement reached between management and the Union on the 13th of November, 1998.
COMPENSATION FOR LOSS OF EARNINGS
7. 1. The Union is seeking compensation for its members for the loss of earnings from the 24th of December, 1998.
2. The workers were laid-off while the Company still had work for them.
8. 1. The workers concerned are not entitled to any claim for loss of earnings as they were not employees of the Company at the time.
2. There is no reason why the carpenters concerned should have been unemployed for any length of time given the present boom in the building industry.
In the course of the hearing the representatives of the company confirmed that the workers associated with the claim had not been dismissed but were on temporary lay-off. As such, they are entitled to resume employment with John Sisk and Son Ltd when that company again requires directly employed carpenters. The representatives of the Union confirmed that this assurance met their claim.
In these circumstances the Court notes the position of the parties.
The parties are in fundamental disagreement as to the terms on which it was agreed to pay a weekly bonus on the site in question. Specifically, there is a complete divergence between the parties as to the duration for which the bonus would be payable.
It is regrettable that the parties did not consider it necessary to record the terms of their agreement in writing. Having failed to do so it is impossible for the Court to interpret an agreement of which there is no agreed record.
In the circumstances, and having regard to the amount involved, the Court recommends that the bonus be paid to the seven workers associated with this claim up to the date on which they last worked for the Company in December 1998.
With regard to the inclusion of bonus payment in the calculation of holiday pay, while this matter was not referred to the Court in the original reference, the Court notes the Company’s assurance that any amount due on this account will be paid.
Compensation for Loss of Earnings
The Court does not recommend concession of the Union's Claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
9th March, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.