INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. (A) Team Leader position (B) Use of two way radios.
2. Claim (a). The dispute concerns the appointment of a worker to the position of team leader at the Company's Knocknacran Mine. As part of the Company's Development Plan introduced in 1998/1999, restructuring took place in all areas of the business. This included the appointment of a number of team leaders who were to be agreed by a consensus of their co-workers, rather than by competition. The Union claims that the claimant was discriminated by not being appointed to a team leaders position. The Union claims that the worker be paid the team leader's rate until he retires and is not seeking the present team leader's removal.
Claim (b). The Company, as a result of restructuring extended the use of two way radios in the mine on the basis that they are beneficial in terms of safety and efficiency. The Union submitted a claim for £2,500 (3174.35 Euro) per worker for the 9 workers involved.
The Company rejected the claims. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 19th of October, 2001. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 6th of November, 2001. The dispute was received in the Court on the 6th of November, 2001. A Court hearing was held in Dundalk on the 27th of November, 2001.
2. 1. The claimant is the most senior worker in the mine and has always acted as a deputy supervisor. The post of team leader was not advertised internally. The claimant was not asked to express an interest in the post, as were other workers. The claimant heard from colleagues, prior to the appointment of team leaders, that he would not be considered for the post.
2. The worker is claiming payment of the team leaders rate until he retires - he is not seeking that the present team leader be removed.
3. 1. The introduction of two way radios has benefited the Company significantly by way of increased productivity in the mine.
2. As the radios were introduced after the Company's Development plan, they should not be deemed to be covered by the payments system in the plan.
3. There is precedent for payments relating to the use of new technology. The claimants have operated the new radios since their introduction, therefore, the operation of the radios are not in dispute.
4. 1. Under the terms of the Company Development Plan, negotiated and agreed with the Union, Management has been striving to move from a hierarchical to a team based operational structure. One of the key objectives in this process was to encourage each team to select a team leader from within its own ranks.
2. The Company declined to advertise the post on the basis that any worker, selected following interview, could be seen as a Company appointment. This would defeat the purpose of having a team based approach. The Company's approach was to take soundings from within areas to see if any worker might be interested. No appointment would be made without approval of the crew. The Company was also prepared to rotate the post if such was the wish of the team. This approach has worked.
3. The mine manager arranged a meeting of the team pointing out that there was one worker willing to act as team leader and if any other worker was interested, the post could be rotated. No other name was put forward. The claimant was at the meeting. He chose not to express an interest, and has since claimed, that while he wishes to have the rate, he is not interested in the post.
5. 1. The two way radios are beneficial to team members in terms of having ready contact with each other. Any efficiency produced from such communication is of assistance in minimising the utilisation of reserve hours, which is a central objective of the operation of the system.
2. Workers at the mine, under the terms of the Company Development Plan, received a payment of £2000 (2539.48 Euro) as per LCR15886 as clarified by the Court. In accepting the recommendation, workers are committed to optimising the use of plant and equipment. The radios were introduced following prior consultation to further assist the production crew.
Team Leader Position
The Court has considered the position of both sides. Clearly the claimant was of the view that he had not been afforded an opportunity of having his name put forward for possible selection for the newly created position of Team Leader. Due to his past experience of acting as deputy on occasions when the Foreman was absent, the claimant felt that he had been discriminated against in the manner in which the Company appointed the Team Leader position.
The Court is of the view that there was no discrimination in the manner in which the Company made the appointment. However, the Court understands that as a result of not being informed of the impending appointment, the claimant was put under stress and in recognition of this, the Court recommends that he should be compensated by the payment of a lump sum of £250 (317.43 Euro).
The Court does not recommend a payment to compensate for the operation of Two-way Radios.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th December, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.