INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Productivity earnings
2. The Company is involved in the manufacture of a large range of brushes and brooms. The dispute concerns 3 machine operators, one with over 40 years' service, and is for a wage increase. (The worker with the 40 years' service expressed a wish to move to another section where she could earn more money.) The workers operate a piece-rate system. The Union claims that the workers are unable to maintain an average income, even with the machine operating at 100%, and that this is due to the age of the machines. (Average income is decided over 6-monthly periods twice a year for the purpose of holiday pay. It is also used for non-productive hours/downtime.) The Company accepts that the machines are old but maintains that this in itself is not contributing to less than 100% output.
Two work studies took place, one by Ernst & Young on behalf of the Company which confirmed the accuracy of the payment system and one by the Union's Industrial Engineer. The issue was the subject of 3 conciliation conferences at the Labour Relations Commission. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 18th of September, 2002, in accordance with Section, 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st of May, 2003, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
UNION'S ARGUMENTS :
3. 1. The Union's Industrial Engineer's report stated that, while the operators concerned could achieve their daily targets, the problem was the amount being paid per dozen brushes produced. This meant that some operators are able to earn much more than others although the work is basically the same.
2. The Union believes that a new joint productivity study should be carried out. In the meantime, the workers should receive an additional €35 per week to help them maintain their average bonus payment.
4. 1. This is not a productivity issue. The SIPTU Engineer stated " From an industrial engineering front, the times issued are realistic and achievable ". This, therefore, is a cost-increasing claim and outside the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF).
2. The format for calculating the wages has been audited by a mutually accepted third party and it demonstrated that the calculation procedure was correct. This was accepted by the Union.
The Court has considered the position of both sides. The Court is satisfied that neither the work study carried out by the Union's Industrial Engineer or the audit carried out by Ernst and Young on the Company's behalf, indicated that there were any deficiencies in the operation of the piece-rate system.
However, the Court recommends that in order to address the perceived deficiencies in the system, it should be revised to ensure that when calculating average pay, machine downtime should be excluded where changeovers and breakdowns occur. In all other instances, non-incentive hours should be included (i.e. daywork) to establish average pay.
Furthermore, the Court recommends that the worker who expressed an interest in transferring to the manual paintbrush operation should be given this opportunity when a vacancy arises in that department.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th June, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.