INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IARNROD EIREANN (NETWORK CATERING)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Pay claim.
2. Network Catering provides catering services for Iarnrod Eireann on board trains and in various ground units. It employs 117 staff on board trains and 121 in ground catering. The Company is a commercial company, which does not receive any state subsidies.
In August, 2000, the Company issued a document, "A structure for the future", which proposed changes in working conditions and the introduction of incremental pay scales. The proposals were discussed at local levelby the on board catering staff, but were rejected. The issue was the subject of conciliation conferences in July and August, 2001 under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. On the 8th of August, the Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) issued a proposal, which was rejected by the Company on financial grounds. A further conciliation conference in January, 2002, failed to resolve the issue. An independent assessor was asked to examine the
Company's records and procedures. He issued his report (the Sweeney report) in May, 2002. The Union requested referral to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Labour Court investigated the dispute on the 18th of June, 2002, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Union believed that both parties would accept the Industrial Relations Officer's proposal of 8th August, 2001. The Union had a reservation in relation to the distribution of gratuities, but was prepared to enter into discussions with the Company to find a resolution to this issue.
2. If the Company had claimed serious financial difficulties during conciliation, it is extremely doubtful that the Industrial Relations Officer would have issued such a proposal. The Company's rejection of her proposal is a breach of good faith.
3. The catering business has become unprofitable in recent years because of a number of difficulties. The ILDA dispute and the foot and mouth crisis severely curtailed travelling. The overcrowding of trains prevents trolleys being pushed through the carriages and passengers who are not dining occupy the dining cars.
4. The Company's failure to address its problems, particularly overcrowding, has resulted in a lack of revenue and has forced the claimants to remain on extremely low basic rates of pay. Since 1993, the Union has requested that the overcrowding issue be dealt with.
4. 1. The Company has suffered losses since 1999 and a loss is forecast for 2002. The proposal put forward by the IRO would cost €1,235,809 per annum. The Company's difficult financial situation is acknowledged in the independent assessor's report.
2.The Company has suffered substantial losses due to pilfering. Any increase in pay must be accompanied by immediate change, including a food inventory system with an established return, before pay can be adjusted. The gratuity distribution also needs to be revised as it currently favours more senior staff.
3. The parties should meet to discuss the "Sweeney report" and agree a fundamental strategic review of the overall business, embracing all elements referred to in the report.
4. Despite its financial difficulties, the Company is prepared to endeavour to stand by its original offer, incremented by National Wage Agreements, which was put forward in August, 2000.
The Court has considered the arguments put forward on both sides to this dispute. The Union is seeking the implementation of the proposal put forward by the Industrial Relations Officer on 8th August, 2001. The Company rejected these proposals on the basis of the cost involved, considering the financial position of the Company at present.
To resolve this situation the Court recommends that the parties should enter into substantial dialogue on the difficulties facing the Company and, in particular, the difficulties identified by the "Sweeney report". On the understanding that cost offsetting measures are agreed between the parties, the first phase of the 8th August proposals should be implemented (with the appropriate PPF increase) as an interim increase and paid three months retrospective from the date of agreement/implementation of these cost offsetting measures.
At the end of a twelve month period from the date of the agreement, the Company and the Union should jointly review the effectiveness of these measures and, if it can be shown that they have been successfully achieved, then the second phase of the 8th August proposals should be paid.
In the event of any disagreement on the final position of the parties, then the matter should be referred back to the Court for final determination.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st July, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.