INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
KOSTAL IRELAND GMBH
(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. Increase in pay rate - Sanyo and Siemens machine operators.
2. The Company was established in 1981 and manufactures automotive electronic components for the European automotive industry. In an agreement with the Company and the Union there is a flat grading structure with the objective of promoting flexibility and interchangeability. The Union's claim relates to approximately 50 general operators who work with the Sanyo and Siemens machines. They are seeking an increase in their pay based on the increased level of skills and competencies they require to operate these machines and the increasing level of output.
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 26th July, 2004 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th December, 2004.
3.1 The other operators do not carry the same level of responsibility as the Sanyo/Siemens operators do.
2. The Sanyo/Siemens operators have continued to upgrade their own knowledge of the machines they operate, along with training other operators to a standard that is sufficient to provide cover for holiday leave etc.
3. Other operators throughout the plant could not take up the operation of these machines without considerable training which can take from 6 to 13 weeks.
4. The reduction in staffing levels on the machines has given a full 50% savings to the Company along with increased productivity.
4.1 The Company acknowledges the positive contribution of the operators in this area, but it cannot accept that the work undertaken in the Sanyo/Siemens area involves a higher level of responsibility to justify an increase in the basic rate of pay or the establishment of a separate grade for these operatives.
2. The future of the electronics industry is uncertain. The Company is facing very tight trading conditions which reflects the fact that manufacturing output price increases across the world are very difficult to achieve due to intense competition.
3. The Irish plant is competing in a global market where competition is increasing. To ensure survival, the Company must produce the highest quality products at a competitive price.
4. The Company has been forced to absorb escalating costs in a range of areas that cannot be passed on to its customers.
5. A further increase in labour costs will only serve to further undermine the competitiveness in the Irish plant vis-�- vis sister plants and low cost external competition.
The issue before the Court concerns a claim by the Union, for an increase in rate of pay or the payment of an allowance for those employees who are trained Sanyo/Siemens machine operators.
The Company raised concerns regarding the possible ramifications, which may arise if the Union's claim was conceded. To quell the Company's fears, at the hearing, the Union gave explicit assurances that there would be no knock on claims.
The Court notes the Union's contention that these machines require an extra level of skill and responsibility. The Court also notes the benefits accrued to the Company with the operation of these machines.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court accepts that the skill and expertise required for the operation of the Sanyo/Siemens machines should be recognised by the Company. Therefore, the Court recommends that an allowance of 10% of basic pay should be paid to trained operatives when operating these machines with effect from the date of the claim, 6th November, 2003. The Union should commit fully to the levels of assurance regarding any 'knock on' affect.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.