INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 2(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2001
NOBLE WASTE DISPOSAL LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Union application under Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001.
2. The Company is part of the Celtic Waste Group. It is a waste management company, providing both domestic and commercial services. It is located at Fassaroe, Bray, Co. Wicklow. It currently employs seventy two staff.
The issues brought before the Court by the Union concern (1) Rates of pay, (2) Hours of work, (3) Holiday pay, (4) Sick Pay Scheme, (5) Pension Scheme, (6) Income Continuance Plan, (7) Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, (8) Bullying and Harassment Procedures.
The Company states that in early 2001, it began a process of improving conditions of employment for staff.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 2 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 22nd of January, 2003.
This dispute was referred to the Court pursuant to Section 2(1) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001, (the Act). The Court is satisfied that the conditions specified at Section 2(1)(a) to 2(1)(d) of the Act are fulfilled in this case and that the dispute is properly before the Court for investigation and recommendation.
The Court acknowledges that the procedures set out in the Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution are, by definition, non-binding on parties. However, in the circumstances of this case the Court finds it particularly regrettable that the employer declined an invitation from the LRC to process the dispute through those procedures.
Section 5(2) of the Act provides that a recommendation made by the Court shall not provide for arrangements for collective bargaining. Subject only to that restriction the Court is required to give its opinion on the matter under investigation and, where appropriate, its view as to the action which should be taken having regard to the terms and conditions of employment, and to the dispute resolution and disciplinary procedures, in the employment concerned.
The Court notes that the Union claims to represent 29 operational staff. There are 46 staff in this category. Whilst the Company says that the number in membership is significantly less than that claimed by the Union, it is not in a position to dispute the numbers claimed by the Union. The Court notes that the Union is prepared to allow the employer’s representative access to its membership records relating to the Company for the purpose of verification, if verification is required.
The Company has also advised the Court that it acknowledges the right of its employees to join a trade union and that it has no objection to employees exercising that right.
The Union has submitted a list of claims covering pay, hours of work, sick pay, pension cover and the provision of disciplinary and grievance procedures and questions of representation in processing matters appropriate to those procedures. In its submission to the Court the Company has indicated that it either has or is in the process of addressing all of the issues raised by the Union.
The Court is satisfied that the issues raised by the Union in its submission to the Court constitute the subject matter of a trade dispute which is properly before the Court for investigation.
The Court has taken careful account of the submissions of the parties in their written and oral presentations. It has also had regard to the entirety of labour relations practices engaged in by the employer, as they were outlined to the Court in the course of the investigation. The Court has also had regard to the labour relations practices engaged in by associated employers, as it is required to do by Section 5(2) of the Act.
The Court has also taken account of relevant Codes of Practice made pursuant to Section 42 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990, as it is required to do by Section 42(4) of that Act.
The following are the recommendations of the Court:-
Rates of Pay.
The Company has informed the Court that rates of pay for the staff concerned is currently €15.11 per hour in the case of drivers and €9.44 in the case of helpers. The Company has also submitted rates of pay applicable to similar grades in comparable employment. The Union has not submitted any information on rates in similar or comparable employments.
On the basis of the information before it the Court accepts that the rates of pay currently applicable to the staff concerned are not out of line with those in comparable employment and the Court does not recommend any adjustment in those rates at this time.
Employees commence work at 7.30am and finish at 5pm. There is a 30 minute paid lunch break and a 20 minute paid morning break. The Company says that this amounts to less than a 44 hour week. The Union has claimed that normal working hours should be fixed at 39, after which overtime should be paid.
The Court accepts that a 39 hour week is now normal in the case of hourly paid employees. The Court can see no reason which would justify hourly paid staff in this employment being required to work a longer standard week. Accordingly, the Court recommends that basic working hours be reduced to 39 within one month of the date of this recommendation and that overtime be paid, at current rates, thereafter. The Court further recommends that for calculation purposes, a 30 minute paid lunch break should not be regarded as working time and one further paid break of 10 minutes per day should be regarded as part of working time.
Sick Pay Scheme.
The Court was informed that the Company has introduced a sick pay scheme which provides that, subject to certain conditions, employees will receive 14 days certified sick leave per annum. The Court was further informed that this is in line with the sick pay arrangements agreed with the Union in an associated employment.
The Court does not recommend any alteration in this scheme.
The Company proposes to put a defined contribution pension scheme in place in January, 2003. The contributions to the scheme would be €300 per annum each for employees and the Company. The Company further proposes that employees may opt to forgo other benefits in the nature of health insurance allowance, performance bonus allowance and non-accident bonus and have their value invested on their behalf in the pension scheme.
In the Court's view the basic rate of funding proposed (€600 pa. divided equally between the Company and the employee) is unduly low and is unlikely to produce a pension of real benefit. The Court recommends that a defined contribution of 4% of pay be made to the scheme by the Company and 4% by employees.
Should employees wish to divert the value of other benefits to the pension scheme this should be allowed by way of AVC’s.
Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
The employer should put in place a disciplinary and grievance procedure which conforms to the general provisions of the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (S.I. 146 of 2000). Consistent with the code, the Company procedure should provide for trade union representation in processing individual grievances and disciplinary matters, where an employee wishes to avail of such representation. The procedure should also provide for the full utilisation of the normal dispute resolution machinery of the State, including the reference of disputes to Conciliation, the Rights Commissioner service and the Court, as appropriate. Similar procedures should be put in place to cover complaints of bullying and harassment.
This procedure should be put in place within one month from the date of this recommendation. Any submission that the Union wishes to make with regard to its content should be taken into consideration. If there is any dispute in relation to the compatibility of the proposed procedures with the Code of Practice, the question may be processed under Section 43 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
Procedures for Resolving Disputes
The Court cannot and does not recommend that the parties engage in collective bargaining in relation to terms and conditions of employment and nothing contained in this recommendation should be construed as providing for collective bargaining.
Where differences arise between the Company and employees in relation to their terms and conditions of employment, such issues should be processed through the grievance procedure referred to above and if unresolved should be processed through a Rights Commissioner or the Court as appropriate. No form of strike, industrial action or interference with normal working should be engaged in by either party until the procedures are resorted to and exhausted.
The Court recommends that all other conditions of employment currently in place should be accepted.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd February, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Gerardine Buckley, Court Secretary.