INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
LEO LABORATORIES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. (a) Refusal by the Union to recognise supervisory structure;
(b) Refusal by the Union to co-operate with sampling of raw materials in the warehouse.
2. The Company is engaged in the manufacture of human and animal healthcare products since 1958. It employs approximately 400 people.
The Company claims that the Union's members are refusing to co-operate with management in relation to the issues as outlined above.
The Union states that its members (25) are affected by the two issues in dispute. It claims that its members are refusing to recognise the new grade of production executive because it has closed off a promotion outlet for them. Also, the new grade affects the operation of the grievance and disciplinary procedures.
In relation to the sampling of raw materials, the Union claims that this operation is appropriate to the higher grade of laboratory technician and is not proper to the general operative grade.
As no agreement was possible between the parties, the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. Conciliation conferences were held on the 13th of November, 2000 and 11th of January, 2001 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 23rd of January, 2001 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 18th of April, 2001.
3. 1. The taking of samples is currently performed by the laboratory technician. The Company now wants the warehouse staff to perform this duty.
2. The sampling function will not require new skills or expertise by the general operative grade.
3. In other areas of the plant, general operatives are involved in taking samples. The Company is not seeking that the testing of samples be undertaken by warehouse personnel.
4. 1. The Company has failed to negotiate with the Union in relation to the proposed work changes in the warehouse.
2. The workers concerned were told in the past that they neither had the educational qualifications or training for the task of sampling.
3. It was always the function of the laboratory technician to carry out the task of sampling.
4. The laboratory technician requires a third level education qualification in chemistry, microbiology or a related subject. The qualifications for a stores person is leaving certificate standard.
5. 1. The Company is obliged to have supervisory personnel with the required technical training/qualifications in supervisory processes and operations to ensure that drug products continuously meet all regulatory requirements.
2. In 1999, the Company concluded negotiations with the Foremen who were amalgamated into the general supervisory group.
3. The complexity of the manufacturing operations of the 1990's resulted in the necessity of integrating the production executive into managing all activities relating to their work areas.
6. 1. The replacement of the foreman grade with the production executive has reduced the promotional opportunities for its members.
2. Foremen's positions in the past were traditionally filled from the general operative grade.
3. The employees are concerned that they will not be dealt with fairly or on a confidential basis by the new supervisory grade of production executive.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions finds as follows in the two issues in dispute:-
Refusals to sample products
The Court finds that this operation falls within the commitment of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness to "full and ongoing co-operation with change and the need for continuing adaptation and flexibility, to maintain and improve competitiveness."
Refusal to recognise the Supervisory Structures
The Court is satisfied that promotional outlets and expectations for general operatives have been reduced by the new structure. While this is a business requirement and the limited number of Foreman posts meant that not all could have aspired to these promotions, a number of personnel would have benefited over time.
The Court, therefore, recommends that subject to acceptance of the structure, the Company pay 7 notional foreman rates, on a personal basis to the seven most senior employees.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th April, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.