INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 33(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1946
ENERGY RESOURCES INTERNATIONAL LIMITED
- AND -
PAUL CASEY, CIARÁN GEOGHEGAN, LESLIE KELLY & JOHN O'REILLY
(REPRESENTED BY LABOUR INSPECTORATE)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Interpretation of the Construction Industry Registered Employment Agreement (REA) on Pensions, Assurance & Sick Pay.
2. A complaint was made to the Labour Inspectorate of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in September 1999, by the 4 workers concerned that their employer (Energy Resources International Limited) had failed to enrol them in a pension scheme. The REA applies to craftsmen, apprentices and general operatives employed in building or civil engineering firms and to their employers.
The Company's case is that it began business in 1991 as technologists in the area of energy and environmental engineering. The main expertise of the Company lay in its ability to design low energy buildings, and it was its intention to specialise in the technology area. However, the Company was forced into manufacturing various components as nobody else knew how to make them and, in time, it had to install a number of systems - ranging from 3 houses in 1996 to 50 houses in 1999.
An officer from the Labour Inspectorate visited the Company on a number of occasions from October 1999, and took statements from the 4 workers. She also examined the 'signing -on' book for the periods 14/12/1998 - 8/4/1999 and May 1999 - November 1999, to ascertain how much time the workers spent in the factory or on-site (details supplied to the Court).
In March, 2000, the Labour Inspectorate wrote to the Company requesting arrears of pension contributions to be made to the Construction Industry Federation. A further letter issued in June, 2000, and the dispute was then referred to the Labour Court on the 19th of October, 2000, in accordance with Section 33 on the Industrial Relations Act, 1946. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd of March, 2001.
LABOUR INSPECTORATE'S ARGUMENTS:
3. 1. It is apparent from the signing on book (from December 1998 - November 1999) that the 4 workers spent more time on-site than they did in the factory. The days registered were as follows:
Paul Casey 132 (site) 66 (factory)
Ciaran Geoghegan 154 (site) 49 (factory)
Les Kelly 178 (site) 32 (factory)
John O Reilly 56 (site) 4 (factory)
As such, they are covered by the REA and should have been included in a pension scheme for that period.
4. 1. It was always the Company's intention to remain a technology company. It was forced into a situation of having to manufacture components as nobody else knew how to make them. This in turn led to the Company having to go on-site to demonstrate how to install the systems. It was the Company's belief that this was the only way to keep the technology alive.
2. Because the Company did not see itself as part of the construction industry, the employment contract signed with the employees specifically stated that there was no pension scheme. The employees were treated with the utmost fairness.
This claim came before the Court by way of a complaint by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment made pursuant to Section 33 of the Industrial Relations Act,1946.
The Court has given careful consideration to all aspects of this case, in which the Department sought a ruling from the Court on the interpretation of Schedule Two of the Construction Industry Registered Employment Agreement as to whether this Company was covered by the schedule to the Agreement.
Based on the evidence available and produced, the Court is not satisfied that a substantial proportion of the business activity of this employer is spent on construction sites. While this may have been the case for a specific period, it was not an ongoing practice. Having examined the activities of the Company, the Court is satisfied that the principal business of the Company is not covered by the industries defined by Schedule Two of the Agreement.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th March, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.