INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HEATONS LIMITED, CLONMEL
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. 1. Dates for payment of phases 2 & 3 of the Programme for Prosperity & Fairness (PPF).
2. The Company currently employs 20 full and part-time staff at its Clonmel store. The Union claims that payment of the 1st Phase of the P.P.F. was made on the 1st December, 2000 following a Company/Union agreement. It is seeking payment of the 2nd and 3rd Phases to apply from the 1st December, 2001 and the 1st December, 2002 respectively. The Union claims that the 2nd Phase was not paid until 1st January, 2002 and states that the Company has broken the agreement between the parties.
Management rejects the Union's claim. Management state that they brought forward the 1st Phase of the P.P.F. to the 1st December, 2000 as a goodwill gesture and that the original dates for subsequent phaseswould stand.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 18th October, 2002 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 28th January, 2003.
3. 1. The Company indicated that , for administrative reasons, it was harmonising wage round dates in all of its stores.2. The 2nd and 3rd phases of PPF should apply from the 1st December, 2001 and 1st December, 2002 respectively.
3. The agreement concluded in 2000 was intended to bring forward the payment date for all future increases under the PPF.
4. 1. Management agreed to bring forward, as a good will gesture, the 1st Phase of the PPF to the 1st December, 2000.
2. The intention of the Company was to reward the employees with an increase that was paid earlier than its due date of 1st January, 2001.
3. The gesture to bring forward the 1st Phase of the PPF would have no bearing on the other phases of the agreement which would be paid according to their due dates of 1st January, 2002 and 1st January, 2003 respectively.
The Court was presented with a conflict of evidence by the parties.
The management claim that the advancing of the 1st phase of the PPF was a concession made to complete the negotiations but that it was clarified to the representatives that subsequent phases would not be advanced.
The Union claims that no such discussion took place and that it was clearly understood that the various phases of the PPF would be advanced in line with the timescales in the PPF. As a result of the advancing of the 1st phase each subsequent phase would be paid earlier.
Both sides put forward written and oral submissions in support of their understanding of the agreement.
Given that there are specific periods outlined in the PPF for each phase of payment, the Court would have expected if these were to be extended, that this would be written into final agreement.
It is the Court's view that it was not unreasonable of the Union to expect that following the advancement of the 1st phase date, subsequent payments would follow in the periods outlined in the PPF.
The Court having considered all the information supplied, recommends that the Company accept the agreement reached in 2001, to advance the payment date for the 1st phase payment meant that subsequent payment would also be advanced.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th February, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.