INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
VAN NELLE (I) LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. The Company is a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco and is located in Mullingar. It is engaged in preparing and packing tobacco, mainly for the export market. It employs approximately ninety-nine people. The current dispute involves seventy-five general operatives.
The Company operates an analogue agreement with three other cigarette manufacturers, Gallahers, Carrolls and Players. Pay increases for general operatives in these companies have been agreed with effect from 1st March, 1999. The Company claims that these pay increases have been given for increased efficiencies and is seeking the same efficiencies from its own staff.
In return for the application of the productivity increases under the analogue agreement, the Company is seeking the following:-
(a) one roll maker/operator per three machines (currently two per machine).
(b) one supplier per four machines (currently three per machine).
(c) elimination of the position of spare machine operators (currently one per shift),
(d) the chargehand in the embaling area to become a working chargehand and
operate the forklifts.
(e) packers to be re-trained to other duties (resulting from the introduction of
automatic packing machines).
(f) efficiency increases to be paid in future from the date of agreement with no
The Union claims that the changes proposed by the Company in relation to the productivity measures are unacceptable. It claims that the Company should honour the analogue agreement and pay the outstanding monies due to the workers.
The dispute was referred to the Conciliation Services of the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 24th of June, 1999 but no agreement was reached.
The Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) put forward proposals to try and resolve the dispute but these were subsequently rejected following a ballot of the members.
Following further discussions at local level, the IRO's proposals were amended by the Company. However, these proposals were also rejected following a ballot.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 10th of August, 1999.
3. 1. Pay increases for general operatives in the other tobacco companies have been agreed with effect from the 1st of March, 1999.
2. The efficiencies being sought by the Company are excessive. The Company is looking for too much in relation to the pay increases on offer.
3. In January, 1993 the Company agreed to have the "Supply Area" studied by the Irish Productivity Centre (IPC) and to be bound by the results. To date, the study has not been carried out.
4. The Company's proposals in relation to the rollmakers would mean a 25% reduction in manning levels. This would not be sufficient to maintain the present production levels.
4. 1. The proposed re-structuring will result in an extra thirty jobs at the plant.
2. Pay increases for general operatives at the other tobacco plants have been given in return for increased efficiencies.
3. The Company must remain competitive both internally and externally or it will lose out to its competitors.
4. The level of change being sought by the Company is relatively modest. In return, the workers will receive a 6/7% increase resulting from the application of the productivity element of the analogue agreement.
The Court notes the conflict of opinion as expressed by the employees' concerns in relation to the Company proposal, and the confidence of management that the proposals can work and are feasible.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions recommends that both sides accept the proposals of the Industrial Relations Officer, as amended at local level, on a six month trial basis.
If disagreements then exist the Court will on request examine the position.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th September, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.