INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
CMI / IRISH MULTICHANNEL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Loyalty payment.
2. The Union's claim is for a loyalty payment to be made to seven of its members who are employed as technical staff.
Cable Management Ireland (CMI) was bought over by Liberty Media trading as Irish Multichannel/Princes Holdings Limited in November, 1999. Another company, Suir/Nore Communications was also acquired by Irish Multichannel at the same time. Following the purchase of CMI, the Union submitted a claim for a loyalty payment on behalf of its members. The claim was rejected and the Union requested a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission in June, 2000. However, the Company refused to attend conciliation on the grounds that the claim involved the former owners of CMI and not Irish Multichannel. The Company is now owned by Chorus Communication Limited.
On the 28th of March, 2001, the Union referred its claim to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969, and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. The Court investigated the dispute in Sligo on the 9th of October, 2001.
3. 1. The employees' hard work and dedication made CMI into a profitable company, which was then bought over by Irish Multichannel.
2. In order to enable the fledgling company to prosper, the employees often worked on call and at weekends without pay. They also worked without pay during the Christmas of 1996 after severe storms. They understood that they would be rewarded in the future when the Company's finances improved.
3. Many of the employees of Suir/Nore received loyalty payments of up to £15,000 (19,046.07 Euro) without negotiation. The employees of CMI should receive equal treatment.
4. Many precedents exist for loyalty payments, including Cablelink staff who received £750 (952.30 Euro) per year of service, with managers receiving an additional £2,000 (2,539.48 Euro).
4. 1. The Union's claim does not involve the present ownership of the company. Any claim should be addressed to the former shareholders of CMI who sold the company, thereby receiving the consideration for the sale of the shares.
2. The Company sought clarification on the issue from a representative of the shareholders who stated that they had no obligation to meet such payments.
3. The sale of CMI was legally concluded in November, 1999, and loyalty payments were not referred to. Nor were they a condition of sale. It is unreasonable to expect this Company to comply with a request which was only received in February, 2000.
4. There is no custom and practice of loyalty payments within the Company or any associated company. The managers and long-serving employees of Suir/Nore were given personal gifts of money by the former owner of the Company.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions, is satisfied that this particular Company does not have a case to answer.
It is clear that the employees feel very strongly that they made major sacrifices to assist the growth of their Company, including working extra hours without payment.
While the Court can understand their frustration, it is clearly not the responsibility of the employer before the Court.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th October, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.