INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH DISTILLERS LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute concerning manning in the bottling hall and in security.
2. The dispute involves approximately 45 workers employed at the Company's Fox and Geese site. The question of manning levels in the Company's bottling hall were discussed at local level in 1997/1998 when the issue of filling a vacancy in the despatch section arose from the retirement of a loading bay operative. The Company decided that a full-time appointment was not warranted and a relief operative was appointed to cover daily and seasonally heavy work load periods. He reverted to his bottling line duties when he was not required in the loading bay. This arrangement was implemented as from the 23rd of February, 1998. The Union sought to have a permanent position retained in the warehouse in March, 1998. Management would not agree and the issue was the subject of a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. The Industrial Relations Officer formulated a proposal agreed by the parties to extend the term of the relief operative until the end of 1998, following which the parties would re-examine the actual work loads and requirements. The Union claimed that a substitute permanent, as distinct from temporary operative be employed in the bottling hall in the meantime but the Company rejected the claim. The Company separately conducted a security review and decided that site security on all Irish Distillers Limited sites should be contracted out.
In the Fox and Geese site it was carried out by a combination of Irish Distillers Limited workers (2) and contract security. One of the Irish Distillers Limited workers retired in January, 1999 and a decision was taken by the Company not to replace him with an Irish Distillers Limited worker. The one remaining security worker was given a guarantee of employment on a permanent basis in a revised security job until he retired. The two issues of manning levels in the bottling hall and security were referred to the Labour
Relations Commission. A proposal of the Industrial Relations Officer (recommended for acceptance by the parties) which provided for the reinstating of one full-time permanent position in the warehouse and consequently creating a job for a new additional employee in bottling and the non-filling of the security post recently vacated following retirement, was rejected by the workforce.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 30th of July, 1999. A Court hearing was held on the 3rd of September, 1999.
3. 1. Since the rationalisation of 1987 crewing levels in the bottling hall have been reduced from 38 to its present level of 22 and then to 20 it is essential that a headcount of 22 be retained in this area. In recent times the number has been reduced to 21 due to retirements/promotion etc. Management's proposal to reduce the number of jobs from 2 to 1 in the warehouse/loading bay area is unacceptable. Management re-deployed an operative from the bottling hall "on a need basis" which brought the numbers down to 20. The Union seeks that the second position in the loading bay be retained and the headcount in the bottling hall be returned to 22. A full-time post (with additional duties) can be sustained in the loading bay/warehouse/despatch area. At least one (21st job) vacancy in the bottling hall can be filled on a sustainable basis.
2. On all occasions when headcount was disputed, the Union argued for an independent study to resolve the issue. Management refused, despite the fact that such a mechanism is widely used in similar circumstances.
4. 1. The issue of security must be resolved separately. Management, in attempting to resolve the bottling hall dispute continued to seek to contract out in return for agreement to a job amalgamation between the bottling hall and loading hall/warehouse. This proposal emanated from the Labour Relations Commission's meeting of 1999 was balloted on and rejected by workers. Workers are opposed to a 'deal' involving the first claim.
2. Security posts were retained as part of a previous agreement which allowed partial contracting out. Workers seek these posts as they become vacant which have been open to industrial operatives in Irish Distillers Limited. Contracting out would effectively mean the loss of a higher earning position to the entire workforce. The posts represent potential to improve the earnings of workers. There are no obvious inadequacies in the system as operated heretofore.
5. 1. Since 1987, when the Company underwent essential rationalisation it is necessary for plant managers to run plants efficiently in order to be competitive and attract ongoing investment from the parent Company to secure jobs for the future. Investment in the Fox and Geese plant has been in excess of £10 million but it will not be enhanced by imposing unnecessary job limitations on quotas on this location. Manning levels are those required for business needs. This was formally agreed with the Union in 1987. The Company cannot automatically recreate jobs without taking costs and productivity into account.
2. In relation to security, following the review, one of the recommendations was that site security on all Irish Distillers Limited sites should be contracted out. This is in line with industry practice within the Company's main competitors - Gilbeys, Guinness etc. Security at three or four Irish Distillers Limited locations is carried out exclusively by contract personnel.
3. The Company has accepted the proposal of the Industrial Relations Officer of June, 1999 as being a fair and reasonable one in the circumstances and asks the Court to recommend its implementation
Having considered the submissions of the parties, the Court considers that the proposals put forward at conciliation are a reasonable response to the Union's claim. However, the Court acknowledges that the Union has legitimate concerns as to the number of permanent jobs which should be maintained at the Dublin plant. The parties should have further discussions with a view to arriving at an agreed understanding on this issue.
On that basis the proposals put forward at conciliation should be accepted.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th September, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.