INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
KELLY TIMBER LIMITED
- AND -
BUILDING AND ALLIED TRADES UNION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appropriate rate of pay for docket men.
2. The Company is located in Finglas and has 2 main business areas: - the main timber yard and mill, and roof truss manufacturing.
In October, 1997, the Company made an arrangement with a number of docket men (4 - 5) which effectively gave them an extra 9 hours' pay per week without having to actually work up the time. This worked out at an average of £52 (66.03 Euro) per week for each man. The Company claims that the Union was aware of this deal but the Union denies it. (The Company has admitted that the arrangement was unsatisfactory.) The arrangement was discovered in 2000, and SIPTU sought to have the deal applied to all its members. BATU, which represents a number of craft workers, is seeking to maintain a 9% differential its members have over the docket workers. There is 1 BATU member who receives an extra 2 hours' pay per week due to an agreement in a previous employment. The current rates of pay as of August, 2001, are as follows:-
General Workers £7.61 (9.66 Euro) x 39 hours £297.79 (378.12 Euro)
Machinists £8.20 (10.41 Euro) x 39 hours £319.80 (406.06 Euro)
Docket Men £7.61 (9.66 Euro) x 48 hours £365.28 (463.81 Euro)
(includes extra 9 hours)
The Company is prepared to offer an increase of 5% to all workers, provided that the 4 - 5 individual arrangements are terminated. It is also prepared to offer a buy-out arrangement to the 4 - 5 workers based on a gross payment of 6 months' wages. The offer would include Phase II (5.5%) of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF). The Unions would have accepted the 5% if it had been in addition to the PPF but, in the event , they rejected it. The Company claims that Phase ll of the PPF was paid in August, 2001.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 23rd of July, 2001, in accordance with the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 12th of October, 2001.
3. 1. Without Phase ll of the PPF being paid, the woodcutting machinists would have a gross wage of less than the docket men, and the erosion of their 9% differential.
2. The Company agreed to increase the salary of the 4 - 5 docket men in 1998 but failed to apply it to the group. It is unfair to expect other workers in the same grade to do the same work for less pay, or for other grades not to seek to maintain the differentials which have been in existence.
4. 1. The Company's financial position has become increasingly difficult in the last 2 years (details supplied to the Court). The offer made to the Unions would cost an extra £17,000 per annum, exclusive of the buy-out. This is the absolute maximum that the Company could afford in the circumstances.
2. The Unions' claim is cost increasing and is prohibited under the PPF. If conceded, it could put the future of the Company at risk.
The Court has taken into account the written and oral points put forward by the parties to this dispute.
While an irregular pay situation has developed during the last 2½ years, the Court is cognisant of the difficult trading situation facing the Company, which would create major problems if it were to attempt to meet the claims of the Unions as presented to the Court.
It is unworkable that such unjustified disparate rates between similar operators should continue, or that they should be allowed to distort the normal differentials applying between grades. However, it is unrealistic for the Company to rely on the no cost-increasing claims clause of national agreements where the Company has already made offers in an effort to rectify the situation.
The Court recommends that future pay arrangements should be transparent and discussed with the Unions in advance of any changes.
In the interests of all parties, the Court recommends that the unsatisfactory situation created by the Company's approach to pay deals should be left in the past. Looking to the future, the Court believes that the dispute can best be resolved by modifying the proposals now on offer from the Company.
Accordingly, taking account of past actions, the Court recommends that an overall increase of 6% should be paid to all employees, other than the four docketmen currently holding extra payments over the basic rates. These four docketmen should accept a one-year lump sum buy out of their extra premium, calculated as the difference between their new base rate (including the 6% above) and their existing pay rate.
This recommended increase should be paid 6 months retrospective from the date of acceptance of this recommendation.
The Court accepts that one machinist has an extra premium over the basic machinist rate due to previous earnings/experience in another company, which he retained under the Transfer of Undertaking Regulations. Therefore, it is appropriate that he should hold this differential.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th November, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.