INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ODLUM GROUP LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Retention of a top-up payment
2. The Company, whose business is the manufacturing of oatmeal is based in Naas, Kildare and is one of a number of entities encompassed within the Odlums Group. The Union's claim before the Court concerns the Company's withdrawal of a "top up payment" for six of it's members at the Naas location. The "top up payment" represented compensation for the loss of overtime due to a change in working hours from days to shift work in May, 2002. The payment was withdrawn in September, 2004, and the Union are now seeking the integration of this payment into basic pay. The Company rejects the claim on the basis that they have already exceeded the norm for compensation for loss of earnings.
- The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 29th September, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 16th November, 2004, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The members received the "top up payment" at the commencement of the shift change in 2002. The members understood that this compensation was to be subsumed into their salary in order to maintain their current earnings. It was never clarified to the members that this payment would be withdrawn in the future.2. On previous occasions the members facilitated the Company by moving from the day shift to a two cycle shift and earnings have been maintained. In the Company/Union handbook it states that " no existing employee will be obliged to work shift". The members have based their standard of living on these earnings. The loss to each individual is significant and management's action has caused grave difficulties for the members and their dependents.3. The Company has implemented the new shift system to meet rising demands which had previously been met through overtime. The Company has enjoyed increased profits due to the increase in production and as the claim only affects six members, the Company should reward its employees for their work, flexibility and loyalty.
The Company paid top up payments to six employees as compensation for the loss of overtime when the Company moved from days to shift working in May, 2002. These payments were made for a period of 30 months. The Union sought the integration of these payments into basic pay.
At conciliation, in an effort to resolve this dispute the Company offered to pay lump sums to the individuals involved in full and final settlement of the claim. This offer was subsequently withdrawn following its rejection by the Union.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court is of the view that the compensation package already paid by the Company is substantial in the circumstances. However, the Court recommends that the Company's offer made at conciliation should be reinstated and the Court recommends that this offer be considered for acceptance by the Union in light of the payments already made.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th November, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.