INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JOHN PLAYER & SONS
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Christmas staffing arrangements.
2. The dispute concerns a claim by the Union for premium payments (treble time) to be made to employees required to work in the Despatch area on the 27th, 28th, and 29th December 2000. The Company decided this year not to continue production over the Christmas period, and advised the Union that it needed a skeleton staff to ensure customer requirements would be met. The Company would seek volunteers, and in the event that none were forthcoming, junior workers would be rostered. Workers would be given a normal day's pay and a paid holiday at a later stage. The Company informed the Union at a meeting in March, and posted the arrangements on the Notice Board in early June. The Union accepts the need to provide a service to customers but in line with its interpretation of a 1992 Company/ Union agreement (details supplied to the Court) is claiming an incentive by way of a premium payment. The Company rejected the Union's claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 15th November, 2000 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 23rd November, 2000. A Court hearing was held on the 8th December, 2000.
3. 1. The Agreement is clear. If days are designated as annual leave, which they clearly have been, and a limited service is required, then sufficient volunteers will be sought. Management is insisting that attendance is compulsory.
2. If there are no volunteers within normal pay arrangements, thereafter, normal industrial relations practice suggests that incentives are offered. In this regard workers have suggested treble time.
3. A further commitment that the arrangements be published in March and no later was also not met. The Company's date of publication was June.
4. The Company's reference to LCR 16654 (Gallaher, Dublin, Ltd, / SIPTU) is entirely misplaced. Gallahers fully operate during this period. The referred dispute concerned an option to production workers to work up time beforehand which was available to distribution workers in the same way. A financial and leave incentive was offered at local level to Gallaher distribution workers. This offer was rejected in favour of a greater claim, which the Court rejected. The current dispute is predicated on an existing agreement which the Company refuses to honour.
5. Management is seeking to nullify the Agreement instead of seeking negotiations as required.
4. 1. It is essential for the Company to provide an order and delivery service to its customers immediately after Christmas.
2. Payment at normal rates of pay for hours worked plus a paid day off in lieu at a later stage, or payment at double time for all hours worked if the time off option is not exercised, has been a feature where skeleton staffing arrangements were implemented in the past.
3. In LCR 16654, in relation to a similar situation, the Court recommended that no additional payment was warranted.
4. The Company is quite within its rights to determine holiday periods for any sections of the business having regard to essential work requirements and in accordance with the provisions of Section 20 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.
5. The stance adopted by the Union is contrary to the existing agreement of 1992. The Company's interpretation of the agreement is that it has discretion to determine fixed holidays in different areas having given due notice of its intention.
The dispute referred to the Court for adjudication essentially revolves around the interpretation of an agreement made in 1992 concerning the Christmas closure arrangements. The Court is of the view that this agreement gave the company the right to designate certain days as either annual leave days or working days thereby essentially fulfilling the Company's need to either have a closure at Christmas or to be open for normal business. The Court is also of the view that if the Company chose to designate these days as annual leave days thereby closing the Company, a provision was also included which allowed the Company to provide a limited service to meet certain requirements. For this limited service the Company has the right to look for skeleton staffing arrangements on a voluntary basis.
The Court is of the view that the Union should co-operate with the Company's requirements and endeavour to have a skeleton staff operating in certain areas as in the past when sufficient volunteers were available.
The Court notes that the Union have indicated that if this agreement is not fulfilling the current needs of the Company, then they are willing to re-negotiate it.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th December, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.