INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. 1. Compensation for loss of commission. 2. Increase in commission rates.
3. Introduction of hand held terminals.
2. The Company employs 235 employees in the manufacturing and distribution of poultry products at its location in Cappoquin.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of 19 van salesmen for:-
1. Compensation for loss of commission.
2. Increase in commission rates.
3. Introduction of hand held terminals.
Local level discussions failed to resolve the issues and the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference took place but agreement was not reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 2nd of September, 1999, under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Kilkenny on the 14th of September, 1999.
Compensation for Loss of Earnings
Some months ago a major retailer moved to central distribution, requiring the Company to deliver directly to the multiple rather than individual outlets. The Union argues that the workers concerned have lost 50% of their commission as a result. The Company rejects the claim. It argues that the move to central distribution was outside its control.
1. The workers have built up this contract over the years and the commission earned from the business has been an integral part of their remuneration.
2. The workers' remuneration is also affected by constant shortages in their orders for the customer in question. Consequently, there is further loss of income and there is a threat to orders because of the shortages.
3. The Union is seeking compensation of £50 per week for a 12 month period to be paid in a lump sum.
1. The move to central distribution has been imposed on the Company, and the major part of the contract has been lost, with reduced margins on the small part retained.
2. The Company has committed itself to supporting the salesmen in an attempt to develop new business. This would involve greater market penetration with existing lines and the introduction of new lines. Given the level of business lost, the salesmen (in varying degrees) have spare capacity on vans and spare time.
3. The Company cannot consider a claim for compensation along the lines of "mainstream" formulae which might normally apply. Central distribution was not instigated by the Company, and no benefit accrues to the Company.
4. The Company has tabled a 3 month "buyout" as a gesture to the workers.
Increases in Commission Rates
The Union is seeking an increase of 1% in the rates of commission paid to the salesmen. Currently they are paid 0.5% for distribution and 1% for retail. Management rejects the claim. It argues that an increase in commission rates is cost increasing and outside the terms of the national pay agreements.
1. The Union is concerned that it could take up to 5 years for the workers to recover lost sales, and is seeking an increase in commission to help the employees rebuild their trade.
1. This is a cost increasing claim and outside the terms of Partnership 2000.
2. Commission is paid as an incentive to salesmen to maximise sales, thus allowing a benefit to both employee and Company.
3. The Company cannot underwrite the salesmens' earnings in this way. A return to the previous level of earnings can only be secured through higher levels of sales.
Introduction of Hand Held Terminals
The issue concerns the introduction of new technology in the form of hand held terminals. The Company argues that the new technology will help the sales staff streamline some of their work, thus making the job easier. The Union is seeking compensation for its introduction.
1. Workers in similar employment have received substantial compensation for the introduction of hand held terminals.
2. The introduction of hand held terminals will result in substantial benefits to the Company. In the circumstances, the Union is seeking £1,000 compensation for the workers concerned.
1. The use of hand held terminals will make the work of both salesmen and Company administration much easier.
2. In the prevailing market conditions, the Company cannot be left behind. Developments in technology such as hand held terminals are common place among this type of employee.
3. The Company cannot pay employees merely because they resist the benefits of technology as they become available.
The Court has considered the submissions made by the parties on the three issues referred for investigation.
The Court recommends that the offer made by the Company to pay a 3 month buyout in respect of the loss of commission claim be increased to a 4 month buyout. The amount payable to each individual should be calculated on their own actual loss. This offer, as amended, should be accepted by the Union in full and final settlement of all claims.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th October, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.