INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SCHERING-PLOUGH (BRINNY) CO.
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Interpretation of continuous improvement.
2. The Company is a pharmaceutical company based in Innishannon, Co. Cork. The claim concerns approximately 220 general operatives. The Union submitted a claim for a pay review and related matters in February, 2001. A number of meetings took place. In August, 2001, the Company indicated that it was seeking a climate of continuous improvement. The Union sought an explanation of what exactly the Company meant, and believed from the response that any changes would be minor.
A number of issues were referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation took place. Agreement was reached in October, 2001. However, the Union claims that the Company is now seeking changes under continuous improvement in regard to labelling, "issuing of active" and printing of schedules which are far in excess of the "modest changes" originally described. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th of May, 2002, in Cork.
3. 1. In August, 2001, the Company described continuous improvement as"Modest changes not requiring meetings or agreements to facilitate. Regulatory requirements, e.g. signing more than once, GMP changes, auditing and documentation".The changes being sought are significant and would require the workers concerned having to take over the role of other groups.
2. The Union would not have agreed to continuous improvement if the Company had explained properly the extent of the changes required.
4.1.Theareas of change being sought by the Company are already covered by the Company/Union agreement. They would also be covered by Clause 1 of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF).
2.The changes will have a minimal impact onthe day to day work of the employees concerned.Continuous improvement was the least contentious issue during discussions with the Union. Failure to implement it would have a serious impact on the Company.
The Court has given long and careful consideration to the submissions made by both parties in this dispute.
The parties entered into an agreement which provided for significant pay increases above the terms of the PPF in return for a commitment from the work force to continuous improvement. It appears that there was a further understanding between the parties that the type of changes required would be minor in nature.
Having considered all of the submission in this case, the Court is of the view that the three items now in dispute do not go beyond what was envisaged by the continuous improvement agreement and are within the limits of what is normally understood as minor change.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the Union agrees to co-operate with the three items in question.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th July, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.