INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Union Recognition.
2. The Siemens call centre operation was established in Cork in January, 1999 and employs 140 people. The call centre is a Pan European, customer care contact centre which deals with users of Siemens' mobile and domestic telephone equipment. The centre currently handles over 111,000 calls monthly.
On the 22nd of March, 2000, the Union informed the Company that it had taken a number of its employees into .membership and sought recognition on behalf of the workers concerns. The Company replied on the 30th of March, 2000 that the matter had been referred to its Human Resources Department in Dublin. Since that time no other correspondence has been received by the Union regarding the matter. The matter was raised with the Labour Relations Commission and while informal telephone contacts were made with the Company no discussions took place.
The Union referred the matter to the Labour Court on the 28th of June, 2000 under Section 20 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place in Cork on the 18th of October, 2000. The Union agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. In March, 2000 a number of Siemens' employees joined the Union. They expressed a wish to be represented in all aspects of their conditions of employment.
2. Over the years, the Union has developed a sound working relationship with various employers and is prepared to work with the management of Siemens in a similar positive fashion.
3. The Union has run a one day training course which was attended by some of the workers employed by Siemens. The Union is impressed by the calibre of these people and the contribution that they will make to the Union in the future. The Union's members wish to have their constitutional rights to join a Trade Union recognised.
4 1. Following the establishment of the call centre in January, 1999, the Company did try to ensure that a good local management and support structure was put in place to run the centre effectively. As with all "start up" operations it has had its teething problems, including managing growth in employee numbers and business volumes, fusing a multi-national work force together, responding to rigorous customer requirements and moving location to a "state of the art" call centre facility. The usual stresses involved in the activity described above may have led to some degree of staff dissatisfaction but this would not have been unusual as management experienced some dissatisfaction from customers as the Company was trying to establish this business.
2. In this respect both the management of the call centre and the newly appointed human resources manager recognised that there was a need to improve and foster the management/staff relationship and to give due recognition to the effort which the staff had made in the start-up phase. Towards this end it was decided in June, 2000 to put in place a series of interventions to copper fasten the good relationship which already existed and still exists. These include the following:-
(1) A commitment to staff to honour the provisions of the Programme for Progress and Fairness with a starting date of March, 2000 and subsequently to be reviewed within the time scale of the agreement.
(2) Implementation of a grading structure.
(3) Implementation of a new pay structure directly linked to the grading structure.
(4) Implementation of a new bonus structure in addition to current remuneration.
(5) Implementation of a sophisticated internal communications structure which allows for staff to participate in a forum with the general manager.
(6) Implementation of a Training and Development Structure.
3. Some key appointments have been made recently which will aid the continuing developmental and participative model in the staff/management relationship. As previously stated the recently appointed general manager has extensive experience in running call centres in a progressive fashion and in a manner which is staff friendly. The Company has had in place a fully committed local employee relations manager for over a year. The recently appointed human resources manager for Siemens Ireland is fully committed to supporting the model that has been in place in the Cork call centre and has actively participated in its development with the local management team.
4. The Company is not anti-union and such sentiments play no part in the Company's ethos. However, it believes that it can adequately maintain a strong management/employee relationship and can build and maintain structures to deal with the inevitable grievances and concerns that arise. To the best of management's knowledge the staff are largely content with the manner in which they are being managed and rewarded. Some of the recently implemented initiatives will take time to take root and grow which in turn will provide for greater employee satisfaction. The terms and conditions of employment compare favourably with local competitors (in some respects are above the norm) and it is the Company's intention to maintain this relative market position.
5. The Company would be happy to co-operate with the Court in any forum (such as the Labour Relations Commission) which it might deem appropriate to assist in the resolution of this dispute and will be glad to take up any invitation which might be forthcoming in this respect. However, the Court is requested to be mindful of the fact that it remains the Company's wish to carry on relations with the staff in the manner in which it is currently promoting and which it feels is in the best interest of all concerned.
The Court is conscious that provision was made in the Programme for Competitive and Fairness to give effect to the implementation of the Report of the High Level Group on the question of the right to bargain.
The Court recommends to the parties that this claim be progressed as per procedures put in position as a result of implementing the Report of the High Level Group.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th October, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.