INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH ISPAT LIMITED
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Claim by the Union for an increase in the premium payable to Chargehand Fitters.
2. The Company currently pays premium rates of between 10% and 20% throughout the plant. In August, 1997, as part of an upskilling agreement, the Company increased the premium payable to Chargehand Fitters and Chargehand Electricians to 15%. In October, 1997, the rate payable to Chargehand Electricians was increased to 20% due to a difficulty in getting electricians to work in the Meltshop. The Union submitted a claim on behalf of the Chargehand Fitters for the 20% premium with retrospection to the date of its application to the electrical chargehand group. The Company rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 12th of January, 1999. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 27th of January, 1999. A Court hearing was held in Cork on the 8th of September, 1999, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The two groups of chargehands electrical and fitters, always had parity of rates until the Company increased the premium payable to the Electrical Chargehands to 20%. This created an anomaly which was consistently raised by the Union at various negotiations The Company was well aware that any resolution of the Partnership 2000 agreement negotiations did not prejudice the Union's chargehand issue.
2. The Company has tried to suggest that the electrical chargehand duties are more onerous than their engineering chargehand counterparts. The Engineering Chargehands have a range of duties which are as demanding supervisionally and physically as the Electrical Chargehands (details supplied to the Court). While both groups carry a response bleep the Engineering Chargehand carries a second services bleep, which is not required as a response mechanism, to the same degree, by the Company from their Electrical Chargehands.
3. In relation to the Company's notice of Christmas arrangements in 1998 the Company clearly confirmed the equality of both maintenance chargehands groups.
4. The Company in response to a shortage of chargehands and the potential for further loss to other employments had to attract electricians into chargehand positions. The concession of the extra 5% differential should not be withheld from the Engineering Chargehands. They have many years of service, continue to deliver their chargehand duties before, during, and after the Company's efforts to attain the required complement of four Electrical Chargehands.
4. 1. The basis for equalisation of the shift premium does not exist as the claim before the Court is submitted on a Meltshop conditions payment which is not applicable to this group.
2. Chargehand Fitters of different categories are paid different premiums. Those with sectional responsibilities are paid 10%. Chargehand Fitters with plant-wide responsibilities, including the claimants, are paid 15%. The Company, in increasing these workers' premiums to 15% saw this increase as a mechanism to address issues of responsibility for the categories concerned.
3. The Company's increase of the premium to 20% in respect of Chargehand Electricians was done in order to get sufficient applications from the electrical category to work as Team Leaders in the Meltshop.
4. The Union accepted the Company's proposals on Partnership 2000. This issue of an additional increase in premium on behalf of the Chargehand Fitters was not formally raised as an issue prior to the Union's members voting upon and accepting the Company's final proposals on Partnership 2000. It was not raised as an issue during discussions.
5. Under the terms of Partnership 2000 and the upskilling programme, complimented with the bonus adjustment, the Chargehand Fitters (for whom this additional premium is being sought) will benefit by an increase of 40% in the period since 1997. The average increase for non-crafts in the same period is 18.75% in the same department.
6. The Company cannot create any further significant divides amongst structures. Any concession of this claim will lead to additional claims for increased premia in other categories in the plant.
7. The Company is experiencing extremely difficult market conditions at present. It is not in a profit making situation and any further monetary strains on the Company could have serious repercussions.
Having considered the submissions of the parties the Court accepts that the additional premium payable to the Electrical Team Leaders is in respect of adverse working conditions in the Meltshop.
The Court does not accept that these conditions apply to the claimants in this case. For this reason the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st September, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.