INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Single Plant Agreement.
2. The Company, which employs approximately 485 people, manufactures car mirrors and is based in Naas, Co. Kildare. The Plant is divided into two areas, the Prism and Complete Mirror area (PCM) and the Electrochromic Added Features Mirrors (EC/AFM) with different terms and conditions of employment in both areas. The Union and Company have been involved in negotiating a 'Single Plant Agreement' to harmonise pay and conditions throughout the plant, to eliminate low pay and facilitate the movement of staff between both areas. The proposals from the negotiations were rejected by the workforce.
- 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 13th August, 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. As part of the 'Single Plant Agreement' a number of changes will come about including the termination of 'Team Achievement Pay' ( TAP) for workers in the EC/AFM area. This bonus is a reward for being part of a team which is results related, with a 5% maximum payout. On average only 2.5% was ever paid. This has resulted in enormous savings being made by management.
2. An increase of 1% across the plant is being sought in return for cost savings rendered in terms of reduced absenteeism and the significant loss to the EC/AFM staff of their non contributory sick pay scheme and their necessity of a 1% levy in line with the PCM area. This increase must be viewed in the context of the members ongoing commitment to achieving agreed standards within the plant.
3. The issue of low pay is a major concern for the majority of the Union's membersIt is imperative that all sections of the workforce are treated equally therefore a minimum rate of pay equivalent to Group 5 PCM rate should apply for all employees below this rate.
4. 1. The Company refused to pay the payment sought by the Union for workers in the EC/AFM area in lieu of TAP on the grounds that these employees are already on a higher rate of pay and by giving the payment it would further add to the anomalies surrounding the two areas. Also these increases would be outside the terms of Sustaining Progress.
2. There are 33 out of the 192 employees in the EC/AFM area who have transferred from the PCM area. Of the 33 there are a total of 7 Group 4 employees. The remainder are part of Groups 5 and 6 and are not affected by the changes.
3. The Company agreed in conjunction with the Union the principle of a single disciplinary procedure based on the PCM area, with one difference applying, that being the duration of the written warning to be changed from 6 weeks to 3 months. The final agreement's disciplinary stages being: 1. Friendly letter, 2.Verbal 6 weeks, 3. Written 3 months,4. Final 6 months.
The Union sought a number of claims in return for agreement on the implementation of a Single Plant Agreement in the Company-
- an increase of pay,
-minimum rate equivalent to group 5 PCM rate from 1st January 2004/elimination of starter rate,
-consolidation payment for the demise of TAP for all EC/AFM employees / payment of €750 lump sum as provided by Labour Court Recommendation No:17836,
- guarantee of 9.8% bonus,
- disciplinary procedures as laid down in PCM agreement.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court recommends concession of the Union's claim for 1% increase in pay to all employees involved in return for immediate acceptance of the fundamental changes and the cost savings envisaged in the Single Plant Agreement. The Court recommends that this increase should apply from date of acceptance of this Labour Court Recommendation.
The Court is of the view that based on the information supplied to the Court on level of skill required for the job; imposing an 18-month progressive scale before moving to the rate for the job, is excessive. Therefore, the Court recommends that the starter rate should apply for no longer than 6 months during which competencies should be assessed.
The Court can see merit in extending the €750 lump sum as provided by Labour Court Recommendation No: 17836 to those employees who are on Group 4 or lower employees and are currently working in the EC/AFM area and who transferred to the PCM area. The Court understands that there are seven employees in this category and recommends that the €750 payment be extended to them. To those on Group 5 or over in a similar position, the Court recommends that a sliding scale payment should be made.
The Union are concerned with the absence of specific details on the 'potential' bonus earnings for the proposed new scheme. The Court, therefore, recommends that the criteria for potential earnings should be fair, accurate and achievable, it should be clear and comprehensible and should be agreed by both parties.
In relation to the issue of disciplinary warnings, the Court accepts that there was an understanding between the parties of what was agreed when the PCM agreement was finalised, however, the Union dispute the wording of the agreement contained in the final document. The Court recommends that the parties should take the opportunity now to clearly agree the duration of written warnings.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th December, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.