INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ANORD ELECTRIC CONTROLS LTD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Basic Pay
2. The Company manufactures electrical switch-gear and process equipment for the home and export markets. It employs approximately 100 people at its location in Dundalk.
In 1996, the Company concluded separate but similar world class manufacturing agreements, with SIPTU on behalf of operatives, and the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union on behalf of electricians. These agreements facilitated the transfer of certain tasks from electricians to operatives who would be suitably trained.
In February, 1999, the Union submitted a claim for an increase in pay on behalf of 28 operatives on the basis of the growing gap in pay between the operatives and electricians since the agreements were concluded in 1996. It argues that it was always the workers' understanding that any increases awarded to electricians would be applied to operatives.
The Company's position is that there is no pay relativity between electricians and trained operatives and that the increased difference in pay is due to the application to electricians of increases paid in the electrical contracting industry and the consolidation of 5 hours per week travel time into basic pay.
Local level discussions took place following which the Company's proposal to intergrate travel time resulting in an increase of 1% in basic pay and the introduction of a skills acquisition base pay structure (details supplied to Court) was rejected by the Union.
The matter was the subject of three conciliation conferences held in September, 1999 under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 21st of February, 2000 under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th of May, 2000.
3. 1. The Company has failed to adhere to the spirit of the agreement reached in March, 1996. It has failed to fulfil the agreement on training and it has abused the workers goodwill which began in the early 1990's when they agreed to a pay freeze. The workers have co-operated with ongoing changes in work practices and the introduction of team-working which resulted in improved efficiencies, without any increase in remuneration.
2. The Company has deliberately delayed negotiations in an attempt to circumvent the Union's right to pursue claims on behalf of its members. It is the Company's responsibility to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the agreement and recognise the contribution made by the workers to the upturn in the Company's fortunes.
3. The travel time arrangement should be applied equally to both categories of worker. It is unacceptable for management to discriminate against the operative grade.
4. The Court is requested to recommend an increase in pay to apply across the board in recognition of the workers' co-operation. This was agreed by the Company in negotiations on world class manufacturing. The Union is also seeking that its proposal on skilled based grades be accepted by the Company.
4. 1. The Company has endeavoured to address the concerns and claims of the employees in a constructive and cost effective manner and within the terms of Partnership 2000 and the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF). Since the outset the Company has reiterated that it must maintain its competitiveness through minimising and controlling costs.
2. The Company cannot jeopardise competitiveness, and thus employment, by conceding cost increasing pay claims outside the agreed norms.
3. Since the withdrawal of the last offer relating to skill acquisition and the processing of this claim to the Labour Court, the PPF has been negotiated. The Company is obliged to state that it did not anticipate cost increases of the magnitude contained in the PPF when it was making its previous skills acquisition proposals.
4. The Company is now faced with wage cost increases of 15.75% over the 33 months commencing on the 1st of March, 2000, when it increased rates by 5.5%.
5. The Company respectfully asks the Court to note that in the face of the substantial PPF increases, the Company cannot now countenance either another pay increase or the introduction of a skills acquisition based structure supporting payments of the order previously proposed, even for limited numbers within the workforce. Such proposals would now compound to make staff costs grossly uncompetitive. However, the Company intends to fulfil in full its obligations under the PPF.
The Court has given consideration to all aspects of this claim. The Court recommends that the Company should reinstate the offer of 22nd September, 1999 regarding "The Skills Acquisition Initiative" as outlined to the Court. The Court notes that there is a need to make some final adjustments to this offer and these should be done in consultation with the Union.
The Court recommends that this offer should then be accepted in settlement of this claim. The Court also recommends that the Company should re-focus its training programme to a faster pace and should recognise the skills acquired by the employees when they are temporarily assigned to other duties.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22 May, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.