INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appropriate job grading for one employee.
2. Arcon Mines employs 143 people in the extraction of lead/zinc. It commenced full operation in March, 1997 at its location in Galmoy, County Kilkenny. The worker concerned commenced employment with the Company in May, 1997.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim that the correct job classification for the worker is 'Mill Process Operator'. It argues that the worker commenced employment as a trainee mill process operator in May, 1997 and qualified as a mill process operator in September, 1997 and should be paid accordingly. Management rejects the claim. Its position is that the worker's job is appropriately classified as a mill labourer and concession of this claim would require the category to be changed which is not justified.
The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 1st of September, 1999 under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial relations Act,1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Kilkenny on the 5th of April, 2000, the first date suitable to the parties. Both parties submitted additional information to the Court after the hearing.
3. 1. The worker was employed as a trainee mill operator and qualified as a process operator in September, 1997. The Company trained him, certified him and declared it publicly in the newspaper.
2. The Company/Union agreement of May, 1998 is clear in establishing the positions of the twenty mill employees at that time. Only two labourers were listed and these were identifiable as were the two load-out operators. This left sixteen mill process operators including the worker concerned.
3. Any study or evaluation of the worker's job would show that it is equal in value and responsibility to other mill process operator positions.
4. The Company's contention that the worker does not perform all the jobs of a mill process operator is misleading and erroneous. This would be true of virtually every other mill process operator.
5. The Union is seeking that the worker be paid the mill process operator's rate retrospectively to the 5th of May, 1998 and that he retain the rate into the future.
4. 1. The determination of job classifications is the Company's right under the Company/Union agreement which states at Section 8.1.4. "(To) establish and determine job classifications, categories and work practices. To determine the layout of all equipment and workstations. To determine the number of employees to be employed in each job in each Department. To determine the number of employees to be employed on shift".
2. Due to a clerical oversight the worker received a certificate stating that he was trained as a mill process operator. At that time he was not trained , qualified, or working as a mill process operator.
3. The worker has on occasions operated as a mill process operator on temporary cover , but only in a limited capacity due to his lack of training and expertise. The levels of responsibility, training and hours worked per week are lesser for a mill labourer which is reflected in the differential.
4. The Company recognise that the worker is a steady and reliable worker, and has given him every opportunity to be trained as a mill process operator, with the view of commencing him in that position. He has rejected this offer as he does not want to work shift.
5. The Company rejects the Union's claim as the worker operates as a mill labourer and in the circumstances his job is appropriately classified.
Having considered all the arguments made by both sides, the Court is of the view that there is ambiguity surrounding the facts of this case.
The Court is satisfied that, when recruited, the claimant was employed as "Mill Service Crew" (now termed "Mill Labourer"). On occasions as the need arose, the claimant filled in as a replacement for a Mill Process Operator who was absent due to illness. The Court
notes that despite such replacement cover the claimant does not possess training or experience in all aspects of the Mill Processing job.
The Court has come to the conclusion that in return for the expectation, which seems to have arisen, that the claimant was an Mill Process Operator, he should be paid a once off lump sum of £500.
The Court notes that the Company has given the claimant every opportunity to be trained as a Mill Process Operator with a view to giving him such a position on a permanent basis. The Court recommends that this should be re-offered to the claimant, and that he should give it serious consideration.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th June, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.