INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ABB TRANSFORMERS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Rates of pay subsequent to a relativity claim with maintenance craftsmen on behalf of welder/fabricators.
2. The Company is involved in the manufacture of power transformers for the ESB and other electricity supply providers here and in the U.K. It employs 170 workers at its Waterford factory. The Union is seeking a pay increase for 19 Fabricator/Welder relative to the Company's maintenance craftsemen.
The Union states that in August, 2000, an agreement was concluded between management and the maintenance craftsmen on an annual hours type agreement which substantially increased their annual salary. The Union is seeking a similar type agreement for Welders/Fabricators.
Management rejected the Union's claim.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 16th August, 2001, but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 20th of August, 2002, under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 22nd of October, 2002.
3. 1. The Union submitted a pay claim on behalf of Fabricator/Welder to reflect the industry norm.
2. The Union is seeking the same annualised agreement for Welders/Fabricators which the Company concluded with the maintenance craftsmen.
3. The Company would not be in breach of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) by concluding a similar type agreement with Welders/Fabricators.
4. The Company has improved the terms and conditions of employment for one section of the workforce under PPF but have refused to improve the terms and conditions of another section.
5. The Company has advertised for highly skilled welders but have reneged on the existing employees regarding their skills level.
4. 1. The rates of pay for maintenance technicians in the Company have not changed. Their work pattern has been converted, by mutual agreement, to an "annualised hours" system.
2. There is no requirement for welders to change their patterns, and the Company sees no advantage to the business in doing so.
3. The rates of pay for welders are appropriate to the job and competitive in the marketplace.
4. The claim is cost increasing and is precluded under the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
5. Concession of the claim will lead to knock-on claims from the remaining workforce.
The claim before the Court is for a significant pay increase based on comparison with other employments. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the pay of the claimant group has ever been established by reference to external comparison. The pay of the group concerned has been established on the basis of the craft rate within the employment concerned. The introduction of an annualised hours arrangement for the maintenance craft group has not changed their hourly rate. Consequently, any increase in the hourly rate of welders would create an anomaly relative to the maintenance craft basic rate.
It is noted that the improvements in overall pay achieved by the maintenance group was in direct consideration of upskilling and other measures under the annualised hours agreement which was freely entered into by both parties. The conclusion of such restructuring agreements are clearly permitted by PPF. However, the claim presently before the Court is for a direct pay increase, is cost increasing and is precluded by PPF.
Having regard to all of these circumstances the Court does not recommend concession of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th November, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.