INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
ABS PUMPS LTD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR322/00/GF concerning claim for compensation for 2 workers.
2. The Company and the Union, representing general operatives, agreed a framework understanding on the introduction of World Class Manufacturing (WCM) in 1994. The agreement provided, inter alia, for the introduction of a new simplified shop floor pay structure in respect of approximately 200 workers. Negotiations on a new skills based structure continued for over two years but no final conclusion was reached. The matter was the subject of a Labour Court hearing in 1998 (LCR15889) in which the Court recommended; "The Court is sensitive to the Union's problems in accepting the "criteria" set out in the Company's document. The Court, therefore, recommends that further discussions on this point take place in the context of WCM. The Court further considers that the Union's aspiration of a maximum of £307 on scale is not unreasonable and should be conceded by the Company as part of further negotiations. The Company's proposal to 'red circle' certain employees should be accepted by the Union and the Court further recommends that these employees be paid a lump sum of £2,500 each in compensation for the fact that they will receive no wage increases."
The dispute concerns the Union's claim that the £2,500 compensation payment be paid to the workers involved in this claim. It argues that at the time agreement was reached to pay the compensation to 'setters in training' the Company was aware that the two workers concerned were due to commence training. Management rejects the claim. Its position is that it would be outside the bounds of LCR15889 to single out any employees and pay them compensation in addition to the pay rises already received.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. The Rights Commissioner's findings and Recommendation are as follows:-
"I have given this case careful consideration and I am satisfied that considerable efforts were made by the parties to ensure the introduction of the new structures in a fair manner. The implementation of the Labour Court Recommendation should be the final word on this matter, therefore, I recommend in the Company's favour."
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation was appealed by the Union to the Labour Court on the 25th of September, 2000 under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal in Wexford on the 5th of December, 2000.
3. 1. Shortly after agreement was reached to pay the £2,500 to 'setters in training' the workers concerned commenced training.
2. At that time they were engaged in the vulcanising operation which was in the process of moving from one area of the site to another and the workers understood that they would transfer with the operation. However, within weeks of the agreement they were transferred onto a 'CNC' operation (previously a setters job) to facilitate the introduction of a three shift system. The workers were trained for 12/13 weeks in the same way as the earlier agreed setters in training. In the circumstances it is the Union's contention that the Union's claim is justified. The workers were trained in the 'old' way and were required as setters at the time the agreement was reached.
4. 1. The agreement provided for the transition from a hierarchical type pay structure where only a small number of people (setters) were appointed on the top rate on a needs basis, to the introduction of an incremental salary scale to which all employees could aspire to that top rate. The other side of this agreement was that all employees in addition to those previously appointed as setters would train and work on all activities of the manufacturing cell, as required, including changeovers/setting.
2. Cell manufacturing and training and development in line with this agreement has been on-going. Employees for their part are formally in agreement to embrace the concepts of cell manufacturing and personnel have been training to do whatever is necessary in their respective cells. In line with this and as per the agreement, annual reviews have taken place for all employees and incremental increases have been applied. All employees engaged in the Company at the time of agreement are now currently on the top unified rate of pay. To single out any employee(s) and pay them compensation in addition to the pay rises already received would be outside the bounds of the LCR15889 and also be precedent setting for all others covered by the Recommendation, e.g. all employees working to the agreement would have a case for both lump sum and pay rise, which in turn would have a 'leapfrogging' effect on the original group deemed by the Labour Court to have a singular case for the lump sum.
3. This issue was the subject of a Rights Commissioner's investigation on the 6th of July, 2000. The findings of the Rights Commissioner were that the 'implementation of Labour Court Recommendation should be the final word on this matter'.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions of the parties in this appeal.
LCR15889 and the subsequent agreements based on that Recommendation makes it clear that the compensation provided for is to apply only to those who did not receive a pay increase under the pay restructuring arrangements. The claimants do not come within that category and have no entitlement to the amount claimed.
For this reason the Court is satisfied that the Recommendation of the Rights Commissioner should be upheld.
Accordingly, the Union's appeal is disallowed and the Recommendation of the Rights Commissioner is affirmed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th, December, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.