INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JOHN PLAYER & SONS
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. 1. Interpretation of Project '97 Agreement re: CPM Mechanics.
2. Increase in meal allowance for Van Drivers.
2. The Company is engaged in the processing of tobacco products at its plant in the South Circular Road. It employs 200 people in the manufacture, distribution and sale of its products.
The first issue involves 11 cigarette packing machine (CPM) mechanics and the interpretation of the flexibility provision of the Project '97 agreement. The function of a CPM mechanic is to service, adjust and maintain cigarette packing machines. Each machine is manned by 1 CPM mechanic and 2 attendants. In February/March 2001, the Company sought to have a CPM mechanic cover for an attendant who was absent from work. The mechanic refused. The Union's case is that CPM mechanics only cover for breaks/lunches of other grades - not absenteeism - as per Project '97. The Company maintains that Project '97 covers full flexibility.
The second issue is a claim by the Union that van drivers current meal allowance of £5.00 (6.35 Euro) per day should be increased to £10.75 (13.65 Euro), a figure that is paid to outdoor staff i.e. sales reps. There are 6 workers involved.
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 Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 30th of October, 2001.
3. 1. Issue 1: Project '97 refers to the flexibility of CPM mechanics as ...to cover breaks/lunchesonlyof other grades.The workers are adamant that at no stage during negotiations was the absenteeism of other grades included in CPM flexibility scope. Following the incident in early 2001, management introduced a document with a new text which is trying to re-interpret the agreement.
2. Issue 2: The Company's current policy of paying 2 different meal allowances is discriminating against the van drivers. The Company has alluded to the £10.75 (13.65 Euro) allowance as covering overnight stays by the reps. This requirement, however, is covered by an overnight allowance. Dublin reps who have no overnight stays receive the £10.75 (13.65 Euro) allowance.
4. 1. Issue 1: The CPM mechanics are the only group not to have embraced the concept of full flexibility. Project '97 refers to Full flexibility, within the department, with due regard to training will be introduced. The mechanics have no difficulties covering for attendants when working overtime. The incident in early 2001 was the first of its kind and might not happen again for a long time.
2. Issue 2: The £10.75 (13.65 Euro) paid to the sales reps is a consolidated daily subsistence allowance. No relativity exists between the 2 groups involved in respect of terms and conditions of employment. The allowance paid to the sales reps had been in existence long before the introduction of payment to the van drivers.
On the 2 issues before it, the Court recommends as follows:
Interpretation of Project '97 Agreement.
The Court recommends that this issue be addressed in the wider discussions about to take place.
However, given the limited number of times there is likely to be a requirement for cover for absenteeism, the Court recommends that in such circumstances the CPM mechanics provide the cover without prejudice to the ongoing discussions.
Increase in meal allowance.
The Court, having considered the oral and written submissions on this issue, does not recommend concession of the Union claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th November, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.