INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JOHNSON BROTHERS LIMITED
(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) Shift premium; (2) Buyout of contract.
2. The Company is a sales, marketing and distribution company that supplies branded products to the retail trade. It also provides a logistics service.
The dispute before the Court concerns a claim by the Union for a shift premium of 25% for staff required to do shift work. The Company proposes to introduce a rotating two shift cycle - 6.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. to meet increased demand. Employees who have come into the Company since 1997 are contracted to do shiftwork.
The Union is also seeking a significant lump sum payment on behalf of staff required to do shift work which is not currently part of their contract of employment.
The Company claims that it is imperative for the business that a two shift operation be put in place as soon as possible in order to meet demand and also to remain competitive. It states that it has offered the staff a 12½% shift premium which was later increased to 15% at Conciliation and claims that a major competitor operates a shift premium of 7½%. The Company is not prepared to offer anything in relation to the claim for a lump sum payment to those employees currently on day work.
As there was no agreement possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Conciliation Service of the Labour Relations Commission. Conciliation conferences were held on the 18th of February, 1999 and the 24th of February, 1999 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 10th of March, 1999.
3. 1. The Union is seeking a 25% shift premium allowance for its members required to operate a two shift cycle.
2. There will be a loss of earnings for those required to operate the new shift system.
3. The introduction of shift work was agreed to but only on a voluntary basis.
4. The workers concerned are seeking substantial compensation to buy-out their contracts in return for the introduction of a two shift operation.
4. 1. The Company's offer on shift premium is generous given that the employees currently operate a 7.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. rostered day.
2. The pay structure within the Company is among the highest in the industry.
3. It is essential that a two shift system be brought into operation to meet current demand and to enable the Company to remain competitive.
4. The Company is not prepared to pay compensation to buy-out the contracts of employees who work the day shift (i.e., 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.).
The Court notes that there is general agreement between the parties as to the need to introduce shift working so as to meet the changed business requirements of the Company. It is also noted that interim arrangements are currently in place whereby the shift pattern required by the Company is currently in operation.
The Court recommends that this shift pattern should continue on the following terms:
1.Acceptance of liability for shift working
It is clearly not possible for the Company to meet its requirements for shift working on a purely voluntary basis. It is, therefore, necessary for those employed before January, 1997 to accept amended conditions of employment which contain a liability for shift working. The Court considers it appropriate for the parties to agree a reasonable once-off payment to those affected by this change.
The Court is not satisfied that realistic negotiations have taken place between the parties on this aspect of the dispute. The Court recommends that the parties resume negotiations at conciliation on this item and that a more realistic approach be adopted in these negotiations.
Pending the finalisation of these negotiations the present arrangements should continue on the basis of 2 and 3 following.
Having regard to the position of the parties the Court recommends that the Company's final offer on shift premium should be increased by 3% and this revised offer should be accepted by the Union.
The Company should seek to accommodate on day work upto 10 employees, who do not wish to transfer to shift working. The basis of selection and assignment to day working should be discussed further between the parties.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd March, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.