INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
2. The Company have been engaged in the manufacture of materials handling equipment at its Galway plant for approximately 40 years. There are 300 employees at the plant. Manufacturing employees in Galway plant are represented by the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union which has a comprehensive house agreement with the Company. The Company has suffered as a result of an international downturn throughout 2001. This resulted in a significant reduction in demand for the Company's products. The Company has also experienced a significant upward shift in the ratio of labour costs as an element of its unit cost of production.
The Company announced its intention to make 25 staff at the plant redundant due to a downturn in trade. The Company announced that the redundancies would apply on a last in first out basis with statutory entitlements applied. The Union refused to accept this. As no agreement could be reached, the Union referred the matter to the Labour Relations Commission.
A conciliation conference was held on the 19th of November, 2001. As no agreement could be reached, the matter was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1)(a)(b) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990, on the 20th of November, 2001. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 12th of December, 2001.
3. 1. The Union has indicated its intention to negotiate a voluntary severance package/early retirement package.
2. Both union and management agree the necessity of improving the negative culture of industrial relations in the plant.
3. The Company have experienced many productive and profitable years in Galway as a consequence of having a loyal workforce who have given many years of continued good service.
4. It is inconceivable that the only option available to the Company to restructure its production needs is compulsory redundancy based on statutory entitlement only.
4. 1. The Company/ Union agreement contains specific provisions on selection in the event of redundancy.
- 2. The Union has consistently over many years insisted rigidly on seniority as the primary basis for selection on a range of issues.
- 3. Because of the fact that the majority of employees in the Company have long service, the introduction of voluntary selection would have major financial implications which the Company simply could not bear.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions for both parties, does not recommend a change in the plant agreement of last in, first out, for redundancy.
However, it would appear that discussions on the terms and possible flexibilities within that policy have been limited.
The Court recommends that the parties meet to discuss the options available within the last in, first out agreement. These discussions might benefit from the assistance of a third party such as the Labour Relations Commission and should be completed within two weeks.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th January, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Helena McDermott, Court Secretary.