INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH FERTILISER INDUSTRY
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Millennium payments.
2. Irish Fertiliser Industries is engaged in the manufacture of chemical fertiliser at three locations in Belfast, Arklow, and Marino Point in Cork. In September, 1999, agreement was reached between the Company and SIPTU/AEEU/ATGWU for the payment of compensation to shift workers required to work through or close to midnight on the 31st of December, 1999/1st of January, 2000. The payment made to continuous shift personnel applied to those working between 20.00 hours on Friday the 31st of December, 1999 and 20.00 hours on Saturday the 1st of January, 2000.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of approximately 14 workers employed at the Company's location in Cork for payment of the £450 millennium payment made to workers who were rostered to work during the 24 hours covered by the agreement. The Union claims the application of the terms of LCR16401 to the workers concerned who worked as part of their normal roaster from 8.00 hours to 20.00 hours on the 31st of December, 1999 and from 20.00 hours on the 1st of January, 2000 to 8.00 hours on the 2nd of January, 2000. Management rejects the claim but has offered an ex-gratia payment of £150 in the interest of good industrial relations. The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 6th of June, 2000 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Cork on the 14th of February, 2001, the first date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Company's offer in November 1999 to pay some employees a lump sum of £450 pre-empted the outcome of National negotiations. However, the Company had an opportunity of addressing the anomaly which it created when the workers on 'B' shift expressed their concerns at being excluded from the special payment. At that stage the Labour Court had issued recommendation (LCR16401) in which it recommended a payment for those working between 8.00 on the 31st of December,1999 to 8.00 hours on the 2nd of January 2000.
2. The reasons given by the Company to justify the exclusion of "B" shift from the payment is incomprehensible. The workers were rostered to finish their shift at 20.00 hours on New Years Eve and commence their next shift at 20.00 hours on New Years Day. The Union is seeking that the Court acknowledge the restrictive constraints on employees who may be scheduled to work such hours to participate in this unique occasion and recommend in their favour.
4. 1. The Company made a fair and reasonable offer to compensate those employees who, by virtue of the operation of the shift roster, were not in a position to enjoy the celebration of the Millennium.
2. The Company believes that it was right to restrict the payment to those employees directly effected, even thought they were only asked to work their normal shift and were not required to do any exceptional work.
3. The Trade Unions in Marino Point did not make any claim for exceptional payment and only responded to the Company's initiative after its initial effort to negotiate changes in the offer failed. No further claim was made through Union channels. The claim from B shift did not arise until Dec. 22nd.
4. The Trade Union's reliance on LCR16401 as a case for extending the period of eligibility for the ex gratia payment is flawed. LCR16401 followed the presentation of a Trade Union case that the staff concerned in the Health Service were being asked to accept changes in their normal working arrangements and work load. Neither of these factors applied to the shift crews in IFI.
5. Extension of the period of eligibility for the ex gratia payment could potentially cost IFI £50,000.
In making the claim now before the Court, the Union rely on the recommendation made by the Court in Recommendation LCR16401. In that Recommendation the Court stated:
"Scope of Recommendation
This recommendation is intended to apply to all hourly paid staff employed under a contract of employment by employers represented by the Health Service Employers' Agency.
The Recommendation is made on the basis of a firm and categorical assurance which the Unions made to the Court, that it will not be cited or relied on in any way whatsoever in support of other claims in the future."
In view of this definitive statement, which in turn is based on assurances provided to the Court by the unions concerned, it is wholly inappropriate for the Union to rely on that recommendation in support of the present claim.
The Court does not find merit in the unions claim and does not recommend its concession. The Court notes, however, that the Company have, on a pragmatic basis, offered an ex-gratia payment of £150 to the claimants in this case on certain conditions. Recognising the Company's desire to achieve a pragmatic settlement of this dispute, the Court recommends that the offer be increased to £200 on the same terms as previously offered.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st March, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.