INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SUNDAY NEWSPAPERS LTD
- AND -
DUBLIN PRINT GROUP OF UNIONS
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Hearing arising from LCR16273.
2. In September, 1999, the Labour Court issued LCR 16273 in relation to the clause (governing additional titles) in the 1989 Company/Union agreement which sets out the titles to be printed by night-shift workers. The Court recommended as follows:
"The Court is of the view that, as the clause is potentially destructive to the viability of the Company and the employees, it is reasonable in the circumstances to review the clause as per the agreement. The Court recommends that the parties should enter into meaningful discussions with a view to revising this clause in accordance with the needs of the industry at this point in time. If agreement is not reached by the 26th of October, 1999, then the parties should revert back to the Court for a definitive recommendation."
In October, 1999, discussions took place following which the Company increased its previous offer by £500 to £2,000 per employee in return for the buy-out of the clause in question. The Unions rejected the offer. They are seeking an increase in basic pay or the continuation of the arrangements currently in place.
The Company's position is that in the commercially competitive environment which now exists, it is a waste of time entering contract negotiations if employees seek additional premia to be added to the already high labour costs.
Since the Labour Court issued its Recommendation, the Company has recruited and made operational twenty new daytime staff.
As agreement could not be reached the matter was referred back to the Court by the Company on the 26th of November, 1999, under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 25th of January, 2000.
3. 1. The night-shift employees are claiming that the present arrangement of, two double hours overtime on new titles up to 100,000 runs and three double hours overtime for new titles over 100,000, should continue to operate.
2. The Dublin Printing Group of Unions believes that the buy-out of these titles will only be achieved by an increase in the basic wages of the staff.
3. The benefit of retaining the bonus payment as outlined is a lucrative one. It is the Unions' view that more new titles will be printed by the Company in the future. This view has been fuelled by the introduction of a day-shift in the machine room.
4. Night-shift workers have a different agreement to the day-shift in that the day-shift will be required to work on all titles. The night workers envisage a situation developing where titles being printed by the day-shift will run into the night-shift operation and this would attract the premium allowance.
4. 1. The circumstances where negotiations with employees covered by the agreement on new titles, would be required are:
i. Production difficulties of the Mirror that necessitated a transfer of part of the run to the Tribune Press.
ii. Involve a swap of one title for another.
iii. The loss of a contract and the successful negotiation of a replacement contract.
iv. Production difficulties of a new title printing on days that necessitated the print run to be completed by night-time staff.
2. The co-operation of all employees is essential to the Company's ability to successfully conclude contract negotiations as they arise. It is also essential to the future of all employees.
3. In the commercially competitive environment which now exists it is a waste of time entering contract negotiations if employees seek additional premia to be added to already high labour costs. It is also unacceptable that a payment structure which is applied to a print contract which arose maybe five times a years is now being applied to one involving weekly or daily production.
The Company concluded an agreement in 1989, an element of which under current market conditions, and clause interpretation, has the ability to prevent the future development of the business.
The clause in the agreement listing named titles has, in the opinion of the Court, been interpreted beyond reasonable limits, and this has had an adverse impact on the competitive position of the Company. The Court cannot, for example, support the contention that the agreement should not allow the loss of one title to be substituted by another title where the work is equivalent, without extra artificial costs.
However, the clause as written does form part of the original agreement, and changed business circumstances now result in the Company seeking to have it removed. The workers involved have had noticeable financial gains from the operation of the clause over the last two years. Future gains are uncertain as the Company has introduced changes to circumvent this. In these circumstances the normal accepted solution would be a buy-out arrangement.
The Court recommends the following as a buy-out of the clause in the 1989 agreement governing work carried out on 'outside publications':
- A lump sum payment equivalent to the extra payments earned in respect of work on additional titles for the years 1998 and 1999, with a minimum payment of £2000 payable.
- This payment to be paid in two equal installments:
1. at date of agreement of the buy-out of this clause, and
2. three months after operation of this agreement.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th March, 2000.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.