INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Inconvenience money.
2. In May 1997 Tesco Ireland purchased Power Supermarkets Limited. It then undertook a major investment programme to refurbish and relaunch each of the Company's 76 stores over a three year period. In April 1999 it commenced the refurbishment of the Crazy Prices Ballyfermot store. This was completed in December 1999.
In January 2000 the Union submitted a claim on behalf of approximately 100 employees for compensation for inconvenience caused to them as a result of the refurbishment work. The issue could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the 18th of July 2000. As agreement was not possible, the issue was referred to the Labour Court on the 6th of October 2000 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 17th of January 2001, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3.1. Inconvenience claims have been a regular feature of the retail business over many years and have been dealt with by way of agreement between the Union and Management. As a basic principle previous agreements clearly recognised and rewarded the claimants in proportion to the inconvenience caused.
2. The Company's offer of £2000 to the store's social fund fulfils a "one price covers all" philosophy. It does not take account of the different levels, type and duration of inconvenience caused to the individual employees. Some workers suffered from eye and throat irritations, skin problems, respiratory problems, nose bleeds, increased levels of stress and headaches.
3. The Company is attempting to treat this group of workers less favourably than the workers in the Maynooth store who did not remain on the premises during refurbishment work. However, the compensation formula which was used in the Maynooth store should proportionally apply to Ballyfermot. A sum of £200 net should be paid to each worker who was present for the duration of the refurbishment work and an additional one day's holiday for every full month of inconvenience on a once-off basis.
4.1. The Company refurbished the store in Ballyfermot at considerable cost in order to protect and develop its business and, in doing so, offer increased security of employment to staff. Claims of this sort should not arise given the significant investment in the business with the obvious benefits for staff and their future.
2. The established practice over many years has been to consider such claims and, only if appropriate, to make a donation to the staff social fund as a gesture. The Company was prepared to make a donation of £2000, which would normally be reserved for large stores, in recognition of the extended period of the refurbishment.
3. The payments awarded to small, medium and large stores of £1000, £1500 and £2000 respectively is established in practice and has been well received by staff. Any attempt to deviate from this would set an unacceptable precedent and potentially unravel the payments already made and accepted in the majority of the stores.
The Court has taken into consideration the written and oral submissions made by the parties in this case. The Court is of the view that it would have been preferable had there been an agreed basis for any payments warranted as a result of refurbishment of its various stores which took some account of the extent and duration of the disruption caused to employees.
In this particular case, the Company took account of the extended period of the work programme which prevailed in the Ballyfermot store and thereby offered to extend the lump
sum payment by £500. The Court recommends that in the circumstances of this case this amount should be further extended. Therefore, the sum of £3000 should be paid into the social fund, in full and final settlement of this claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th January, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.