INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Non payment of 5.5% and 2% of Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF)
2. The Company is located in Airways Industrial Estate and is engaged in the production of hygiene products. Work is carried out in 3 lines, with each line producing a variety of products. There are approximately 50 workers involved in the claim and they are interchangeable across the 3 lines. The workers are entitled to a morning break of 10 minutes and a lunch break of 20 minutes, with each line shutting down completely to allow for same.
The Union's claim is for payment of Phase 2 of the PPF which is 5.5% due from the 1st of May, 2001, and 2% due from 1st of April, 2001, under the PPF revision. Since late 2000, the Company has been seeking to introduce a system of staggered lunch breaks to ensure continuous running of the 3 lines in order to offset the cost of PPF payments. It has also offered an increase in the productivity bonus scheme which operates. The Union believes that the workers are due the PPF payments without having to give any concessions. It also expressed concern about reduced manning if continuous running is operated.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 22nd of January, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 28th of February,2002.
3. 1. The Union has argued from the outset that specific concessions do not have to be given for the 5.5% payment. The spirit of the agreement aspires to an attitudinal change to accommodate minor variations in production requirements. The workers have co-operated with changes in the past.
2. The Company has been seeking continuous running of the 3 lines since September, 1998, in exchange for the 2% local bargaining element of Partnership 2000. Instead of making its case to the Court, the Company has chosen to withhold the payments due in April and May, 2001. The Company is not pleading an inability to pay
4. 1. Clause 1 of the PPF commits the parties to "full and ongoing co-operation with change, and the need for continued adaption and flexibility to maintain and improve competitiveness".
2. The Company is not seeking to deny the workers their entitlement under the PPF, but wishes to do so in a manner which allows it to offset some of the costs involved. The enhanced bonus scheme could lead to considerable payments to the workers.
3. The Company's current trading position is not good and payment of the monies, without concession, will have a serious effect on the Company's financial position and, possibly, on ongoing employment.
The Court has considered the oral and written submissions in this case. The Court recommends that the Company should immediately pay the outstanding payments due under the terms of Phase 11, and the revised term (2%) of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, with the appropriate retrospection.
The Court recognises the competitive difficulties facing the Company, the consequent need for goodwill from the Union members and their apprehension regarding possible demanning if the Company requirement is met. The Court notes:-
1. The Company's assertion regarding the potential for significantly enhanced bonus earnings, which will arise from the operation of running the machines through the break times and
2. The assurances given by the Company not to extend such reduced manning beyond the cover periods.
Therefore, the Court recommends the following:-
- The Union should accept the immediate operation of continuous running on a trial basis for a period of three months.
- Any difficulties which may arise should be sorted out in consultation with both sides during the course of the trial; in the event of any outstanding matters not being resolved the parties may return to the Court for adjudication.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th March, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.