INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
GREENCORE GROUP PLC
- AND -
AMICUS - MSF AND SIPTU
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. 1. Elimination of the offset with the State Pension. 2. Death in service to be increased from 3 to 4 times salary. 3. Widows & Orphans contribution - afford members the opportunity to upgrade their existing contribution from 2% to 3%. 4. Payment of full pension on completion of 40 years service and the option to retire at 60 years of age. 5. Special allowances - increase the amount of the basic rate to be made pensionable.
2. Greencore Group plc is a major manufacturer and supplier of convenience foods and ingredients to the food retail and manufacturing sectors in Ireland, UK, continental Europe, South America, South Africa and Japan. The Group employs 11,700 people in Ireland, UK, and continental Europe.
In February 2002, the Company presented proposals to the Trustees of the Staff Scheme to merge the Staff and Manual Schemes and to create a single pension fund. The Company and the Company-nominated Trustees implemented the merger of the funds on 1st January, 2003. The Company rejected the requests of the Union that the merger of the funds be postponed until the outstanding claim for improvement of benefits was dealt with through industrial relations procedures.
The Company addressed the position of Widows & Orphans contributions and the remaining issues were referred to the Labour Relations Commission. The matters were the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission and as agreement was not reached the matter was referred to the Labour Court on the 17th of October, 2002 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14th of January, 2003.
3. 1. It is the view of the Union that the claim should be considered in the context of the substantial surplus in the Staff Pension Scheme and in the context of the changes proposed by the Company as part of their merger proposals.
2. The staff unions have consistently sought improvements in pension benefits along the lines of this claim.
3. It is the view of the Union that the evolution of the Greencore Staff Pension Scheme is towards non-integration and now is the appropriate time to eliminate the remaining 1/80th integration factor.
4. There is an obligation on the employer to recognise the commitment and loyalty of the employees and the extent to which the Company benefits from that loyalty
5. In their disregard for the views of the members of the Staff Pension Scheme who opposed the merger of the Staff Scheme with the Manual Scheme, the Company have sought to pre-empt and prevent a genuine partnership approach to resolving the issue in dispute.
6. In pushing through the merger of the schemes prior to the Court hearing, the Company has attempted to undermine the Union's position in respect of the affordability of the claim.
4. 1. The Company does not see any grounds for concession of any of the claims being made.
2. The scheme compares very favourably with schemes in comparable industries in the country. It is considered by the actuaries to be in the top 20% of schemes in the country.
3. The only justification permitted in successive National Pay Agreements for increases in pension benefits was where a scheme could be shown to be demonstrably out of line with comparable industries or with industry in general. No argument has ever been advanced by the Unions or the members that the Company Pension Scheme was or is out of line.
4. The justification for these claims put forward by the Unions has been that because the scheme has been prudently managed and is in a healthy financial position the gains should be used to continuously improve the benefits. This is a short term view which when viewed against the current and prolonged volatility in financial markets the Company could not support.
5. In a Final Salary Scheme such as that provided by the Company and unlike the Defined Contribution Schemes the active members benefit on an ongoing basis from salary inflation. The last three years of the National Pay Agreement has given average salary increases year on year of some 6% per annum.
In overall terms the Court is fully satisfied that the benefits to which this claim relates are in line with those of the better schemes in comparable employments.
However, having considered the submissions of the parties the Court recommends that the Union's claim for death in service benefit be increased to 4 times salary should be conceded.
The Court notes that arrangements are being made to facilitate the introduction of an increased contribution to the spouses and orphans scheme.
The Court does not recommend concession of the other aspects of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd January, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Helena McDermott, Court Secretary.