INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
GEHE IRELAND LIMITED
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Non implementation of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF), length of working week, pay rates/scales, sick pay scheme, claim for pension scheme, canteen facilities, promotional opportunities, Christmas and summer bonus, right to representation at grievance and disciplinary procedures, Trade Union Recognition.
2. GEHE Ireland Limited is a subsidiary of a Germany company. It has 53 pharmacies with 650 employees. Prior to July 2002 GEHE owned 22 pharmacies. In July, 2002, it took over Unicare which consisted of 30 pharmacies with 3 subgroups, and has subsequently acquired 1 more pharmacy. The Company acknowledges that it needs to undergo significant changes in terms of standardising the terms and conditions of employment for staff. The Union does not dispute this. The manner in which these changes are decided and how they are brought about are not agreed upon.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level. The issues in dispute were referred to the Advisory Service of the Labour Relations Commission in accordance with the (Code of Practice on Voluntary Disputes Resolution) (Declaration) Order 2000, S.I. 145 of 2000. As the issues remained unresolved, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 31st March, 2003, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour court hearing took place on the 19th June, 2003. The earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1.Pay scales and rates of pay
The Union is seeking the introduction of a national incremental service scale (as is the norm in retail). This Union has organised similar grades in a competitor company and has suggested the scale for sales assistants which includes phase 1 of Sustaining Progress (SP).
Length of Working Week
Full time employees are required to do a 40 hour week. The Union is seeking the introduction of a standard basic 39 hour week for all full time employees, without a reduction in pay. Overtime to apply after 39 hours.
Sick Pay Arrangements
The Union is seeking the standard sick pay arrangements as operated by the competitor company i.e.
- After Probation Period - 12 days paid sick pay per annum
- Doctor's certificate required after the third day of illness
- Carry over of unused sick pay into the next year.
- The proposals put forward by the Company were unacceptable to the Union
The Union are seeking the introduction of a contributory defined pension scheme for all employees. The norm within the retail trade is a defined benefit scheme.
The Union are seeking the provision of basic canteen facilities for staff where possible. The Company stated that the size of some of their retail outlets does not lend them to such facilities.
The Union is seeking the introduction of written transparent promotional procedures and career advancement policies. The lack of same has caused serious disquiet among staff following recent promotions.Christmas and Summer Bonus
The Union is seeking the introduction of a Christmas bonus equivalent to one weeks gross pay and a Summer bonus equivalent to two weeks pay (the competitor company pays a profit related summer bonus between two to four weeks.)Trade Union Representation and Trade Union Recognition
The Union is seeking an unequivocal statement in the Company Handbook that employees can be represented by a Trade Union at disciplinary and grievance procedures. The Union also requests that the Company recognise Mandate Trade Union for the purpose of collective bargaining and that the parties meet to agree the scope of a formal recognition agreement
4. 1.Pay scales and rates of pay
The Company is trying to address the pay imbalances in the different shops and implementation of the PPF. The Company had more than 60 different 'Over the Counter' (OTC) rates. This has been reduced to 10 for the previous 22 shops. This has been increased to 12 rates this year in order to unify all employees across the entire Group. There will be an annual review for all staff in May every year.
Length of Working Week
Staff are contracted to work 40 hours per week. A reduction in employees hours would lead to a reduction in pay. Employees would not welcome this. The company agree to re-assure that employees pre-existing terms and conditions will be honoured. Any changes will only be by consent and agreement.
Sick Pay Arrangements
The Company introduced a formal sick pay scheme in early 2002. The scheme is a generous one and provides for:
- 10 days' sick pay per annum
- An additional one months half pay for employees with more than 2 year service
- The Company has set up a Pension Scheme and has begun to offer pensions to Managers and Pharmacists. Over the next 2 years, it is the Company's intention to roll this out to all staff. A Company PRSA scheme is being put in place this summer.
The Company have purchased 53 pharmacies of various sizes and conditions. As the Company is refitting these premises staff facilities are being considered. Some of these new premises are small and it is not practical with restricted square footage. The Company is not in a position to facilitate all of the pharmacies presently.
All staff are eligible to apply for promotion opportunities. Sample advertisements for promotional posts were included in the Company's submission.
Christmas and Summer Bonus
- The Company has introduced a standardised 'one week's pay' Christmas bonus for all staff. Anyone who previously received more than a week's pay will continue to do so. Some staff received one week's summer bonus. This bonus will be honoured to those staff. The Company will not be extending this summer bonus to all staff.
1. The Company does not recognise the Union and does not wish to deal with the Union on collective bargaining. The Company deals directly with staff. Communication and staff involvement are high on the agenda and the Company wishes to continue the status quo.
2. The Company has introduced many benefits for its staff,such as pensions, VHI, bonus scheme and service awards. It has successfully dealt directly with its staff and continues to do so.
3. The cost of introducing the above changes means that the Company cannot do everything immediately. The Company is confident that staff are happy with the improvements achieved to date. The Company is still in a start-up phase and is operating basically at a break even level.
The Court has considered the submissions made by the employer and the Union and proceeds to make a recommendation under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990 on the outstanding issues, which remain unresolved following the Labour Relations Commission involvement.
Accordingly, the Court recommends as follows:-
Application dates of PPF/SP
The Court notes the employer's intention to adjust wages rates on 1st May each year, which will take account of all aspects of national wage agreements. The Court endorses this position and recommends accordingly
Pay Scales and Rates of Pay
The Court notes that in the near future the employer intends to consolidate the pay rates which currently apply by introducing an incremental salary scale with a minimum of €7.14 (May, 2003 rate) which will reflect the norm in the industry. The Court endorses this position and recommends accordingly.
Length of Working Week
The Court recommends the introduction of a 39 hour week, without loss of earnings, as the normal working week in the Company. This should be implemented by 1st September 2003 for all employees.
Sick Pay Scheme
The Court endorsed the sick pay scheme as introduced early in 2002 and outlined in Appendix 3 of the employer's submission to the Court and recommends acceptance of this scheme.
The employer indicated to the Court that it intends to introduce a pension scheme in the next two years for those staff not already covered by a Company scheme. The Court endorses this position and recommends accordingly.
The Union sought the provision of basic canteen facilities for staff. The employer indicated to the Court that progress has been made on providing staff facilities where stores have been refitted, and that nine more are in the planning stages. The Court notes the Company's progress on this matter and recommends that every effort should be made to ensure that all staff have access to basic canteen facilities during meal breaks in the absence of a major store refit.
The Court notes the agreement that this matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Union.
Christmas and Summer Bonus
The Court notes that the employer has introduced a standardised "one weeks pay" Christmas bonus for all staff and has agreed to retain a Summer bonus for those staff already in receipt of one, on a personal to holder basis. The Court endorses this position and recommends accordingly.
Right to Trade Union Representation
The Court recommends that 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.
Trade Union Recognition
The Court recommends that the employer should recognise the Union in respect of those of its employees, which it has in membership, for normal industrial relations purposes.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th June, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.