INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS LIMITED
- AND -
IRISH PRINT GROUP
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Return of work in house to members of the IPG that was outsourced in 1999.
2. The dispute concerns a return of work in-house to 28 members of the Union that was outsourced under an interim agreement called "Bridging Strategy". The work involved was on the magazine/supplements to the newspapers.
In September 1999, the Company made a presentation to outline the purchase of new machinery for its site in Citywest. As Citywest could not produce the magazine without the new machinery, it was agreed to outsource the work to Smurfits. The Union's case is that Citywest can now replicate the work done by Smurfits and that the make-up of the magazine should now be returned to Abbey Street as per an agreement of December 1999. Work in 1999 was being done in accordance with the Stage 3 Technology Agreement of 1996. Workers in Abbey Street work a 32-hour, 4- shift week.
The Company is willing to return the work to Abbey Street but only on certain conditions. These would include an extension of the working hours to 39 hours per week, 5-shift working, multi-skilling by the workers involved and the move would have to be cost-effective. The changes in work practices would be akin to Stage 4 Technology. However, at the Labour Court hearing, the Company admitted that it did not have the finances to pay for this Stage 4 work in Abbey Street at present.
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 17th of July, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 25th of September, 2002.
3. 1. In a letter to the Union dated 23rd of September, 1999, the Company made a number of assurances including " All work appropriate and proper to be "returned" to or carried out at Abbey St. and Citywest will be so done" and "no loss of work to staff will arise from magazine outsourcing".
2. There are agreements in place going back to the New Technology Agreement of 1989 and re-affirmed in the "Stage 3" Technology Agreement 1996 that clearly state that page make-up is the preserve of the Irish Print Group.
3. Whilst the Union is prepared to discuss the sharing of work with other Unions it is not prepared to change work patterns.
4. At present there is a total of 63 hours 'waiting time' in Abbey Street whilst work proper to the 28 members is being outsourced.
4. 1. The workers concerned have suffered no loss of earnings, face no employment threat or adverse working conditions. Indeed, they have received major pay increases of 18% plus the lump-sum paid under the PPF.
2. The Company is hopeful that Stage 4 work will be introduced at Abbey Street which would result in the return of the work that the Union is seeking. However, it does not have the financial resources to do so at present.
3. The Company has offered to recruit staff with IPG credentials to circumvent the objection to 5-shift working but the Union is not agreeable.
The Union is adamant that the work outsourced as per the 1999 agreement should now revert back to its members.
The Company indicated that it was anxious to conclude Stage 1V agreements but could only do so when the proper resources become available. The time scale for this was likely to be 12 months.
The Court, having considered all the written and oral submissions made by the parties, and taking into account the trading situation as outlined by the Company, recommends that a decision on this claim be postponed at present, but discussions between the parties should commence on 1st June 2003, with a view to reaching agreement.
If at this stage the parties fail to reach agreement, the matter can be referred back to the Court for a definitive recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th October, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.