INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
IRISH FERTILIZER INDUSTRIES
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute regarding Company Agreement on payment of shift rate applicable to employees while on sick leave.
2. The worker concerned is employed by the Company as a fitter at its Marino plant in Cork. The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of the worker for loss of shift rate from the 4th of December, 1989 to the 4th of October, 1993. During the period the worker was certified medically unfit to operate on shift and was facilitated with a job in the workshop. The Union first lodged the claim in June, 1991.
Prior to his illness the worker operated on days but was transferred to shift working for short periods. While on shift he was afforded all of the conditions pertaining to full-time shift working. The Union argues that the worker is entitled to be compensated for the loss of shift allowance under Section 3.4 of the Comprehensive Agreement which states:-
"The basic conditions pertaining to the regular shift working apply in the case of part-time shift working, and any additional entitlements like holidays, etc. apply pro-rata in relation to the period of part-time shift working."
The Company rejects the claim. Its position is that the worker's condition prevented him from working on shift and that the matter was the subject of a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission in April, 1995, following which a proposal put forward by the Industrial Relations Officer in full and final settlement of the dispute was accepted by both parties.
The matter was referred to the Labour Court by the Union on the 22nd of March, 1999 under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Labour Court hearing took place in Cork on the 1st of September, 1999, the first date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. From the time of the worker's initial illness (17/7/89 to 28/8/89) there were ongoing difficulties between both sides on his medical condition and some conflict between various doctors and consultants. As part of an assessment of his condition, the worker, at the Company's direction, attended doctors and consultants. This was at his own expense and amounted to £443.14.
2. Employees referred for such consultation have their travel expenses and doctor's fees reimbursed by the Company. The Court is requested to consider this for adjudication.
3. The Company has paid the shift premium to other craftsmen who were absent and returned to work on light duties. The worker had a regular rostered shift rota of 16 weeks a year and when he returned to work on restricted duties the Company refused to implement Clause 3.4, contrary to the precedent set of paying the premium to his colleagues.
4. The Labour Court in AD3791 decided that a worker was entitled to premium rate while absent on sick leave.
5. The worker is seeking equal treatment from the Company through its procedures and agreements. He was under stress and felt pressurised into accepting the proposal put forward by the Labour Relations Commission. In the circumstances he has been unfairly treated and the Court is requested to find in his favour.
4. 1. The worker's illness was of indefinite duration and prevented him from carrying out (1) normal day duties, and (2) shift duties.
2. He was not on sick leave but was working in a controlled environment where restrictions imposed on him by his illness would not be needed. In creating this controlled environment position, the Company ensured 100% of basic salary which would have reduced under the Sick Pay Scheme.
3.. A full and final settlement of this issue was agreed by both parties on the 25th of April, 1995 with the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission, and to raise the issue again raises grave doubts about the credibility of the Union at future negotiations.
6. The Court is requested to reaffirm the agreement reached in full and final settlement by both parties on the April 25th, 1995, and reject the claim by the Union.
The Court is satisfied that the issue now before it was finally resolved by agreement reached at the Labour Relations Commission in May, 1995.
The Court can see no reason as to why that agreement should now be set aside and the issue re-opened. Specifically, the Court does not accept that the claimant was put under undue pressure to accept the terms of this agreement. Nor does the Court accept that the Labour Relations Commission agreement was in any way contrary to the Company/Union Comprehensive Agreement.
The Court recommends that the Union now accept that the issue which it has referred to the Court was agreed and finally settled in 1995.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st September, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.