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
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay parity, Social Welfare abatement for pension purposes, productivity pay for
Mr John Martin, and improved severance package.
2. The Company was formed in 1990 and was acquired by the Guinness Group in 1999. The Unions submitted a claim for enhanced remuneration and improved pensions on behalf of 29 workers in process, stores, and bottle sorting area. Local discussions were not successful and the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held in November, 1999 at which the parties agreed to the appointment of a mediator. A second conciliation conference was held in February, 2000 and, following the mediator's report, the parties agreed to consider general pay, current allowances, sick pay and the remuneration of Mr J. Martin. A management consultant was appointed following agreement between the parties to look at exploring options which could go some way to meeting the claim for pay increases without increasing unit costs. Following his report, the Company put forward proposals to increases the differentials in the process, stores, and distribution areas in return for restructuring of work tasks and flexibility of start / finish times, the contracting out of the bottle sorting activity, and the offer of a number of voluntary redundancies. Subsequently, the Company stated that it did not currently have a requirement for any redundancies.
The proposals were rejected and the Unions outlined their claim as follows:-
(1) Pay. Parity of pay with United Beverages' Dublin workers.
(2) Mr. J. Martin. An increase of £95 retrospective to when the claim was lodged.
(3) Sick Pay. 100 % of nett pay for 26 weeks in any year and Social Welfare cheques would be submitted to the Company.
A further conciliation conference was held in February, 2001 at which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 29th of March, 2001. The dispute was received in the Court on the 29th of March, 2001. A Court hearing was held on the 8th June, 2001.
UNIONS' ARGUMENTS (1) PAY
3 1. There is no justification for the disparity in pay levels (£106.70) for the claimants when compared with their Dublin colleagues. The Company has a lead market position, with lucrative profit margins.
4. 1. The Company cannot concede pay parity with production operatives in Dublin. There is a fundamental difference between the type of production vis a vis Dundalk and Dublin. Dundalk is a glass bottling plant and Dublin is a PET (Plastic) bottling operation (details supplied to the Court).
UNIONS' ARGUMENTS (2) MR. J. MARTIN
5. 1. The worker is a long serving employee and operated a machine (De- Crater) for most of his service. In 1999, the Company introduced two high tech machines for de-crating and this impacted on him directly. The worker was obliged through re-training to up skill for his new high-tech responsibilities. To maximise production flow, the Company decided to position both machines to accommodate one operator and this has been his responsibility since January, 1999. In negotiations the Company offered to increase the worker's machine allowance, this paltry offer was rejected. The worker should enjoy the increases claimed for the 29 workers with a further payment of £95 to reflect his contribution.
6. 1. The machines installed are more efficient and easier to operate than the old semi-automatic de-crating machine previously operated by the claimant. He is not taking on any further responsibilities than before they were installed.
2. To concede the claim would give the worker a 40% increase in basic pay. Apart from the cost-increasing nature of the claim, which could not be borne by the Company, it would be inequitable to workers carrying out similar roles. Concession of the claim would also give rise to repercussive claims.
UNIONS' ARGUMENTS (3) SICK PAY
7. 1. The Company's proposals for implementation of a sick pay scheme (60% of basic pay for 26 weeks) were rejected as being insufficient. The Unions want all reference to discipline removed from any conditions attached to the scheme.
They will not accept that injuries sustained outside work hours are a reason to exclude members from a scheme.
8. 1. The provision for an income stream of up to 26 weeks with only one year's service to qualify is generous by comparison with sick pay schemes in similar companies and for similar type jobs.
2. The pre-existing permanent health insurance scheme for those affected by long term illness or disability is unusual for this type of employment. It is not enjoyed by other workers throughout the group as it would be too expensive to provide.
3. The Unions' claim is unrealistic and too big a cost for the Company to bear.
The Company position is that there are fundamental differences between the work undertaken by the employees in Dublin and Dundalk and that there are significant differences between the productivity in the two plants.
The Union case is that there is no justification for the disparity in pay between the Dublin employees and the Dundalk employees.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions recommends that an agreed third party e.g. the Irish Productivity Centre, be asked to carry out a job evaluation exercise between the work in question and comparable jobs in the area, in similar industries, and in the Dublin plant. Mr Martin's claim should be addressed by the same process.
In relation to the Sick Pay Scheme, the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim but does recommend that the exclusion clauses should be no different to those applying for other Company employees covered by a Sick Pay Scheme.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st June, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.