SECTION 8(1)(A), ANTI-DISCRIMINATION (PAY) ACT, 1974
RANGELAND MEATS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY MANAGEMENT SUPPORT SERVICES (IRELAND) LIMITED)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal against Equality Officer's Recommendation EP22/98.
2. The Company operates a meat processing plant at Castleblaney, County Monaghan. It employs approximately 70 employees and supplies burgers mainly to the catering industry.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of 27 female workers that they are entitled to the same rate of remuneration as that paid to 10 named comparators. The comparators are employed in the production process and the claimants are normally involved in the packing procedure.
In March, 1998, the Union submitted a claim under Section 3(a), 3(b) and 3(c) of the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974 (the Act) to an Equality Officer for investigation and recommendation. The Equality Officer issued his recommendation on the 22nd of December, 1998, in which he concluded that the claimants performed like work with each of the named comparators, in terms of Section 3(c) of the Act, and that they have an entitlement to the same rate of remuneration as that paid to the named comparators.
The Company appealed the Equality Officer's recommendation to the Labour Court on the 29th of January, 1999 on the following grounds:-
The Equality Officer erred in law and in fact in granting equal pay
as he failed to give due consideration as to the reasons why
different payments were made and erred in his evaluation of the job
description in finding that the"skill, mental effect and responsibility placed greater demands on theclaimants"and thus the claimants perform"like work"with that of the comparators.
The Court heard the appeal in Monaghan on the 9th of June, 1999. Both parties to the dispute made written submissions to the Court, which were expanded upon orally during the course of the hearing. In the course of its investigation into the dispute the Court carried out a work inspection at the Company's premises in Castleblaney on the 22nd of July, 1999.
The Company has appealed the Equality Officer's Recommendation on two grounds:-
1. That the Equality Officer failed to carry out a proper examination of the work carried on by the claimants and comparators by taking into account the full range of duties of the claimants but comparing them to only one aspect of the duties carried out by the comparators.
2. The Equality Officer erred in finding that the claimants did work of equal value to that performed by the comparators as defined in Section 3(c) of the Act. The Company stated that in the case of the claimants, the entire range of the claimants' duties were examined whereas only one aspect of the comparators' duties was examined.
The Court, following the hearing carried out its own inspection of the workplace and the duties performed by the claimants and comparators. The Court is satisfied that as well as performing that aspect of their duties with which the claimants' work was compared, the comparators did in fact perform in rotation a number of other duties. The Court is of the view that when conducting an examination to find whether or not a claimant and comparator do work of equal value within the meaning of Section 3(c) of the Act, the totality of the duties undertaken by the claimant and the comparator must be examined. The Court accepts the Company's argument that the Equality Officer did not examine the totality of the comparators' duties when conducting this examination.
The Court then examined the totality of the claimants' and comparators' duties.
The Court finds as a fact that the claimants and comparators do not do like work within the meaning of Section 3(a) and 3(b) of the Act.
The Court then examined the totality of the claimants' and comparators' duties to find whether or not they performed work of equal value within the meaning of Section 3(c) of the Act. The Court looked at the responsibility skill and mental effort involved in both jobs and finds as follows:-
Given the importance of complying with production specifications, the comparators, whose responsibilities include ensuring that the mix of the product is correct, and who have discretion to adjust the form of the product have a higher level of responsibility than the claimants.
The skill required by the comparators in their job, which includes the selection of the right cuts and ensuring that the product is of the correct texture and moisture, is, in the Court's view, of a higher level than that required by the claimants.
Taking into account the totality of the duties carried out by the comparators, the Court finds that the mental effort required of the comparators is greater than that required of the claimants.
The Court cannot accept the Equality Officer's findings in relation to skill, responsibility and mental effort. The Court is satisfied that the comparators, in order to comply with production specifications which are of paramount importance to the Company, have a higher degree of responsibility, skill and mental effort than the claimants and, accordingly, do not carry out work of equal value within the meaning of Section 3(c) of the Act.
The Court upholds the Company's appeal and rejects the Equality Officer's Recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd November, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Determination should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.