INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ARGOS DISTRIBUTORS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. (1) Sunday Premium, (2) Retrospection
2. The Company has been trading in the Republic of Ireland since 1996 and presently has 11 stores. It was recently taken over by Great Universal Stores (G.U.S. plc).
In November, 1997, the parties concluded a comprehensive Agreement. Clause 6.3 of the agreement states:
"The Company agrees to pay double time for Sunday and public holiday working."
In early 1999, the Union claims it became aware that part-time staff were receiving flat-time payment for Sunday work. The matter was raised with the Company and a meeting was held in April, 1999. The Company acknowledged that it was in breach of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, (the Act) in relation to Sunday work. The Act had come into force on the 1st of March, 1998. The dispute concerns the rate for Sunday work for part-time workers, and the amount of retrospection. The Company is offering time plus one half for Sunday and 6 months retrospection. The Union is seeking double-time for Sunday, plus retrospection to March, 1998.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 10th of June, 1999. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 30th of June, 1999, in accordance with Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 15th of September, 1999.
3. 1. The 1997 Agreement is comprehensive and very clear regarding the appropriate payment for Sunday work. It applies to all non-management staff, not just to Monday - Friday workers.
2. The Agreement is in line with other agreements reached with U.K. multiples - e.g. Marks and Spencer, Boots, Debenhams and Sears Group - who pay double-time to all employees for Sunday work.
3. EU Directive 97/81/EC was adopted on the 15th of December, 1997. In general, it sets out a framework for eliminating discrimination against part-time workers.
4. At the meeting in April, 1999, the Company admitted that it was in breach of the Act, which states that double-time applies to Sunday work.
4. 1. The Company is operating in a low margin, low-cost-based business. There has been a significant dilution of sales in the Nutgrove, Waterford and Limerick stores.
2. It was agreed between the parties at the time of the 1997 Agreement that weekend-only staff would be paid flat-time for Sunday work. If the Company believed that staff recruited for weekend-only work were to be paid double-time, it would not have been commercially viable to trade on Sunday.
3. The Union did not make a formal claim until April, 1999, 18 months after the Agreement was signed. It appeared to the Company that the Union had accepted the Company's interpretation of the Agreement.
4. Payment of double-time across the board, as the Union is seeking, would result in a number of stores ceasing to trade on Sunday.
The Court had given careful consideration to the written and oral submissions of the parties. In the interest of fairness and equity, the Court is of the view that as the situation was unclear for these "part-time weekend staff", the rate of double time for Sunday working should apply for all those employed prior to the date of this recommendation.
The rate of time plus a half as offered by the Company should apply to "part-time weekend staff" employed following the date of this recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th November, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.