INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9); INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT; 1969
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation Ir 455/99/MR
2. The Company has been operating in Cork since 1974, producing long-life meals. The worker concerned has been employed as a general operative in the factory since 1977. In 1997, he was promoted to Chargehand in the raw materials store and continues to work there.
The dispute concerns the redistribution of overtime by the Company in a new rotation system, introduced in April, 1999. The Company claims that this was brought about by a reduction in business, and the full implementation of the Organisation of Working Time Act (WTA) from April, 2000. The worker concerned, and a second worker, had been doing overtime in the Rotomat area for a number of years, with each worker doing 5 nights per fortnight by arrangement. The Union's claim is that with the new rotation system the worker concerned has not been chosen for overtime to the same degree as previously, and has suffered a considerable financial loss. The Union is claiming that the worker be compensated with three times his annual loss (estimated at £1,640 per annum).
The case was referred to a Rights Commissioner and his Recommendation is as follows:
"Accordingly, I recommend that Swissco Limited should offer, and that SIPTU and the Worker should accept, a once-off lump sum of £250 in full and final resolution of this dispute."
The Union claims that since the Rights Commissioner's hearing the overtime in the Rotomat is being covered by 2 other workers on a constant basis. The worker concerned has not been asked to cover this overtime. The Company maintains that the worker has been offered a considerable amount of overtime but has refused most of it.
The Union appealed the Recommendation to the Labour Court on the 21st of December, 1999 in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 24th of May, 2000, in Cork.
3. 1. The new rotation system was introduced without prior consultation and agreement with the Union. The new system would mean that the worker will have 1 night's overtime per fortnight, instead of the 5 that he worked previously. To date, he has been offered no overtime on the Rotomat system.
2. The worker refused overtime from April to June 1999, but he was unavailable to do so and advised the Company accordingly. He was available at other times but the Company failed to offer alternative nights or enquire as to when he was available.
4. 1. From April, 1999, to April 2000, there was more overtime available to the worker under the new system than under the old system. From April to September ,1999, the worker worked 28 times out of 101 offers of overtime. (A list of the days offered and worked/refused was supplied to the Court).
2. The Company had to reduce the amount of overtime due to a downturn in business. Many other employees were affected by the cutbacks. The worker still has the opportunity to do overtime in the mornings and evenings.
This is an appeal by the worker against a Rights Commissioner's Recommendation regarding the allocation of overtime and the resulting loss of earnings.
The Court notes that the new system of overtime was designed to take into account the requirements of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, and the loss of business incurred by the Company. It also notes the impact that this change had on the appellant's ability to plan and liaise with his co-worker. Unfortunately, this was not discussed in advance with the appellant. Taking account of the points submitted, the Court recommends that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation should be increased to the sum of £500.
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is hereby modified accordingly.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th June, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.