INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SYNTHETIC PACKAGING LTD
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Bonus Scheme.
2. The Company employs 110 workers and manufactures plastic sacks and other miscellaneous industrial packaging products. There are two distinct areas in the operation. One unit prepares and supplies product involved in the manufacturing process and on completion of that process, the second unit sews the various parts together. The Union's claim concerns the bonus scales. There are two separate scales in operation. Bonus scale 'A' applies to approximately 38 sewing workers and sewing "indirects". All other operators are paid from Bonus Scale 'B'. Both scales are identical up to 100% performance. The sewing workers scale 'A' gives a higher level of bonus over 100%. The Union now claims that bonus scale 'A' should be paid to fifteen operatives. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 28th January, 1999 no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 26th February,1999.
A Court hearing was held in Tullamore on the 24th February, 2000 (the earliest date suitable to the parties).
3. 1. The cost of conceding the claim is minimal as only six workers are on direct bonus and the other nine are on a factory wide average.
2. The claimants are employed in the supply of raw material, fork lift driving, processing of finished goods to and through the warehouse and other such duties. They are performing work of equal benefit in satisfying customer demands. Therefore, they should have equal opportunity in their earnings.
3. The normal practice in operating this type of bonus scheme is to give equal opportunity of earnings to all employees on direct bonus.
4. The rationale in operating a bonus scheme is to create an incentive. However, if there is discrimination in the scheme, there will be no incentive for those who are being discriminated against. This could lead to inefficiencies.
4. 1. All employees who qualify for the company Bonus Scale A do so on the basis that they are involved in heavy work or directly in the sewing function.
2. The Union has argued over many years that the Sewing Workers are a special case and cannot now reasonably argue the contrary. Furthermore, concession of this claim is likely to result in a knock-on claim by sewing workers to have their bonus differential restored.
3. Concession of the union's claim will have serious cost implications, which will further erode the company's competitiveness in a fiercely competitive global market.
4. The Company has a pension scheme, sick pay scheme, month/annual attendance draw, higher than average holiday entitlement and competitive rates of pay. These benefits are well in excess of the norm for textile/sewing industries and are a cost factor that cannot be ignored.
5. Notwithstanding the above, this claim is a cost-increasing claim and as such debarred under the Partnership 2000 agreement.
The Court has given consideration to the position of both parties.The bonus scheme that operates in the company includes a special payment for sewers, in recognition of the special conditions attached to that job, effectively establishing two bonus schemes. This payment has subsequently been extended to jobs allied to the sewers grade.
The Union are now claiming that the sewers bonus should apply to other employees not employed in the sewing operation. The Court does not recommend concession of this claim. However, the Court recommends that the parties should meet and examine the situation, with a view to agreeing productivity measures that would bridge the gap in the bonus payments, for the claimants.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th March, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.