INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ABBOTT IRELAND LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Pay agreement.
2. The Company manufactures health care products for the home and export market. It has three plants, Donegal, Sligo and Cavan.
The Union states that the Company is not governed by national agreements. It negotiates directly with SIPTU in relation to pay and conditions at the three plants. The current agreement in the Donegal plant expired on the 25th of February, 2002. The Union is seeking a replacement agreement based on the following, (1) Pay parity with the Cavan plant, (2) Improvements in sick pay, VHI, shift premiums, service pay, holidays and compassionate leave, plus the introduction of a Christmas bonus as applies in the Sligo plant.
Management rejected the Union's claim for pay parity with the Cavan plant. However, it put forward proposals for a two year agreement. These provided for increases in basic pay of 13.4% plus an increase in the Company's subsidy towards VHI and increase in service pay entitlements for long service employees.
The Company's offer was rejected by the Union. As no agreement was possible between the parties, the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 22nd of March, 2002, at which the conciliation officer put forward proposals to resolve the dispute. However, following a ballot of the members, it was rejected. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 30th of May, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 11th of July, 2002.
3. 1. The Union is seeking pay parity with the Company's plant in Cavan. The social and economic conditions are broadly similar in both areas.
2. There is no economic justification for paying workers in Donegal 32% less than that paid to the Company's workers in Cavan.
3. The Company has consistently stated that the performance of the workers in the Donegal plant is the best of the three plants, yet their rate of pay is the lowest.
4. The pay rates at the Donegal plant have slipped significantly by comparison with those generally applying in the industry, in the locality and nationally.
4. 1. The Company operates in a very competitive market. It must remain competitive or it will lose out to its competitors.
2. The Company is experiencing external competition, particularly from manufacturers located in Eastern Europe.
3. The Company recognises and rewards the contribution of all employees. It has in the past paid above the national norm in recognition of the workers' commitment to the philosophy of continuous improvement and total equality.
4. The Donegal plant produces for a different product market to that of the Cavan plant. Management reporting relationships also differ from that of the plant in Cavan.
5. The offer put forward by the conciliation officer is the maximum the Company can afford. To concede anything more would lead to knock-on claims and
would jeopardise the future of the plant and the jobs of its 550 employees.
It is clear that negotiations have always been conducted independently in respect of each of the Company's plants and that there has never been any formal or informal linkage in pay or conditions of employment. The Court also accepts that each of the plants is in a different product market and that it is not reasonable to make a straight comparison between Donegal and Cavan facilities for pay purposes.
However, the Court is of the view that for the purpose of bringing finality to the present pay negotiations, the proposal which emerged from conciliation should be modified as follows:
(a) Increase of 6.5% in basic pay from 1st March, 2002.
(b) Increase of €6.00 per employee per week from 1st July, 2002.
(c) Increase of 6.5% in basic pay from 1st March, 2003.
(d) The agreement to expire on 29th February, 2004.
All other aspects of the proposals set out in the Industrial Relations Officer's letter of 20th March, 2002, should remain unchanged.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th July, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.