INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
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 McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
2. The Company manufactures plastic containers and currently employs over 200 workers at Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan. A shift system for continuous production over seven days is in operation.
Claim 1 -Print Setters
There are six print setters employed in the Company who carry out the printing of containers. They are graded at Grade 3, which carries a differential of 27% over the general operative grade. The Union claims that the differential should be increased to 47% which is the same as maintenance staff. The Company rejected the claim.
Claim 2 - Loaders
The loaders are on the general operative rate but 6 have a differential of 7% on a personal basis over the general operative rate. The Company uses outside hauliers to transport its goods by articulated trucks. Initially Boxmore employees loaded the containers and contacted the contractor to send in a driver to shunt the containers when full. The Company has now rented a tractor unit and requires the loaders to move the trailers. The Union is claiming a differential of 30% in respect of the loaders for shunting trailers. The Company offered a once off lump sum payment of £200 (253.95 Euro) per worker. The Union rejected the offer.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 22nd of November, 2001. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 22nd of November, 2001. The dispute was received in the Court on the 22nd of November, 2001. A Court hearing was held in Cavan on the 28th of November, 2001.
3. 1. On the signing of a comprehensive works agreement in 1993, print setters and maintenance enjoyed a Grade 3 differential of 27% over the general operative rate. The agreement does not preclude the Union from seeking the 47% differential which is paid to maintenance staff.
2. The maintenance agreement provides for an initial 12 month rate for new recruits of 35% increasing to 46% after one year. Some of these workers are time served craftworkers but many are not. The value of the work performed by the claimants and the level of skill required is equal to that of non-time served maintenance workers.
3. Print Setters have undertaken added responsibilities over the past number of years particularly in the quality area. They have engaged in extensive training to acquire new skills, and have trained new recruits to the grade. This has resulted in large productivity gains for the Company.
4. The Union does not accept that the new rate for maintenance workers represents the creation of a new grade, and seeks the restoration of parity between the maintenance and print setter grades.
4. 1. The claim for parity is based on a previous deal with maintenance workers in 1997 which prohibited " knock on claims". The agreement was put in place with the approval of the parties, as a result of difficulties with staff shortages and retention problems in the maintenance area. The agreement was a stand alone one and only affected maintenance workers. It was clearly understood that no other group or job was involved.
2. The Company examined the rates of pay locally and nationally and found that its rates for Print Setters are not out of line and their rates are fair.
3. The 1997 deal was agreed within the terms of Partnership 2000 and cost increasing claims were precluded. The claim is also precluded under the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
5. 1. Shunting a very large truck in all road conditions is an extra and onerous responsibility which merits extra payment.
2. Due to the large increase in output, shunting now forms a higher percentage of the claimants time and the extra skill and responsibility entailed warrants an increase in pay which workers value at a 30% differential for all the claimants. This is the level of differential enjoyed by Team Leaders with whom the Union equates the level of responsibility of this new task.
6. 1. The Company does not consider that there has been any significant change in the work practices as the loaders had previously done the shunting for a number of years. The practice was only made official with proper training implemented and a designated tractor unit acquired.
2. Such small changes are covered by the flexibility agreements in Partnership 2000 and the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
3. There is no additional workload.
4. The Company's offer of £200 (253.95 Euro) is still on offer.
The Court is of the view that there was an historical relationship between the print setters and the maintenance staff in that both categories were on the same grade of pay. Due to an agreement in 1997 relating specifically to maintenance staff to cater for the difficulties experienced in retaining and recruiting maintenance staff, that relationship was broken.
The Court accepts that there was justification for the agreement made with the Union on behalf of maintenance staff, whereas there is no justification for the extension of that agreement to the print setters.
However, the Court recommends that further discussions should take place on the Company's suggestion that scope exists for developing the print setters job, which could justify an increase in pay.
The Court accepts that the purpose of the 1993 agreement was to eliminate premium payments for driving duties. Some drivers retained the 7% differential on a red circle basis. From that time on all additional operations, such as forklift driving, were paid as per the general operative grade. It would appear to the Court that this should continue to apply where forklift drivers are required to perform shunting duties. Therefore, the Court does not recommend a grade change as claimed.
However, in noting that the Company had, prior to the hearing, made an offer of an ex-gratia lump sum of £200 (253.95 Euro) to each loader, the Court recommends that this should be increased to £500 (634.87 Euro) to each loader in settlement of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.