INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
KILDARE CHILLING COMPANY
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Non payment of Sustaining Progress
2. The Company is a meat processing Company based in Kildare Town. The Union represent approximately 265 hourly paid staff. The claim concerns the payment of Sustaining Progress (S.P.), with the first phase due from the 1st of April, 2003. The Company wrote to the workers in March, 2003, claiming that it was in a vulnerable position and that necessary measures would need to be taken if the Company was to be competitive. The Company proposed the following cost off-setting measures:
Elimination of breaks - 3 x 5 minutes
Elimination of "Bulls Bonus"
Removal of rigidities, ineffectiveness and anomalies.
- The Union has rejected the proposals and maintains that the Company should pay the full terms of S.P. A number of meetings took place at local level and at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), but the parties could not reach agreement. An Independent Assessor was appointed to look at the Company's financial situation and his report issued on the 7th of April, 2004. Part of the report reads as follows:
"In the context of the disclosure requirements of Clause 1.10(iii) I am unable to come to a conclusion as to its ability to claim offsetting costs as the Company did not provide audited accounts as requested by me and as provided for under the terms of Clause 1.10(iii) of Sustaining Progress"
Following the report, a second conciliation conference at the LRC took place but the parties could not reach agreement. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 13th of May, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th of July, 2004.
3. 1. The Assessor's report effectively supports the Union's claim
2.The changes sought are significant. The Company's proposals on cost off-setting measures would significantly worsen the terms and condition of the workers.
3. The Company refused to provide audited accounts to both the Union and the Assessor despite the obligation to do so under the terms of S.P
4 1.The current financial and trading position of the Company is such that it is seeking some cost-offsetting measures to meet the cost of paying S.P. which will be €500,000. The measures being sought are reasonable.
2. The Company has sustained many difficulties in the last few years including the BSE crisis, wage increases, insurance costs, and the fluctuation in the value of the dollar and sterling.
3. The Company is keen to protect employment but if it fails to reach agreement with the Union it may have to examine its position and its future.
This dispute concerns a claim by the Union for the payment of the terms of the pay agreement Sustaining Progress, which were due to commence on the 1st April, 2003. The Company claims that some cost-offsetting measures are necessary to pay the full terms of the Agreement.
Clause 1.10 of the Agreement sets out the procedure to be followed where such a plea is made.
The Agreement provides that "the onus will be on the employer to convince the union of the case and provide supporting arguments and full disclosure of information to the union".The procedures prescribed by the Agreement involve an examination of the economic, commercial and employment circumstances of the employer by an Independent Assessor appointed by the LRC. If the dispute remains unresolved, it is to be referred to the Court.
The Court has considered the submissions made by both sides and the report submitted by the Independent Assessor. His report concludes:-
"While I have little doubt that the Company is losing significant sums of money, in the context of the disclosure requirements of Clause 1.10(iii) I am unable to come to a conclusion as to its ability to claim offsetting costs, as the Company did not provide audited accounts, as requested by me and as provided for under the terms of Clause 1.10(ii) of Sustaining Progress".
Following the hearing, the Company provided information to the Labour Court and the Union from the Company's accountant. The Court notes that this information was not additional to that already supplied to the Assessor. Consequently, the Court concurs with the Assessor's view that he was unable to come to a conclusion as to the Company's ability to claim offsetting costs. Therefore, the Court is not convinced that the cost offsetting measures sought are necessary for the Company in order to pay the terms of the Agreement.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the terms of the Agreement be implemented in full with retrospection from the due dates.
The Court notes the Union's willingness to discuss the issues raised by the Company, when the Agreement has been implemented.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st July 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.