INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
S2(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2001,
AS AMENDED BY THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS(MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT, 2004
SIFCO TURBINE GROUP
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Referral under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001 as amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act, 2004.
2. The Union referred five issues to the Court: (1) Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure (2) 10% Bonus (3) Extension of Operator Grade production bonus to Supervisors (4) Performance appraisal and (5) Harmonisation of overtime premium. The Company did not refer to the Grievance and Disciplinary procedure in its submission. Briefly, the issues are as follows:
(1)Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure:The members are seeking the involvement of a full time Union official to represent them and attend meetings on Company premises in regard to grievance and disciplinary matters.
(2)10% bonus:The 10% bonus is normally payable in December of each year. It was not paid in December 2002 or 2003. The Union is seeking to have the 2003 bonus paid into the members' basic salary and also paid in the future.
(3)Extension of Operator Grade production bonus to Supervisors:The operator grade receives what is described as an on-time production bonus. The Union is seeking that the bonus should be extended to the Supervisors.
(4)Performance Appraisal:The Company operates a performance appraisal scheme which reviews the Supervisors' performance on the anniversary of their appointment. The Union is seeking (1) an appeals mechanism and (2) that all reviews take place during the same period.
(5)Harmonisation of overtime premiums:The Union believes that overtime premium be harmonised for Supervisory grades so that they would receive the same premium as Operators and Lead Hand grades.
The Union referred the dispute to the Labour Relations Commission under the Enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution (S.I.76/2004). The employer declined to participate in the process provided by the Code of Practice for stated reasons.
The Union then referred the dispute to the Labour Court for investigation and recommendation under Section 2(1) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001, as amended. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 15th of September 2004, in Cork.
3. 1.10% bonus:The 10% bonus, normally paid in December is part of the contract and terms and conditions of employment of the workers. The workers believed that the non payment of the bonus would only apply to 2002 but the Company again failed to pay it in 2003 without any legitimate reason.
2.Extension of Operator Grade production bonus to Supervisor:The Supervisors contribute significantly to the on-time delivery targets and ensure the smooth and efficient running of shifts. Their contribution should be acknowledged.
3.Performance Appraisal:(1) There should be a clear internal and external appeals mechanism attached to the performance appraisal scheme. (2) Reviews can be delayed or late by a number of months. The next review period should be January, 2005. Review pay increases undertaken in 2003 and 2004 should be applied 6 months retrospectively.
4.Harmonisation of overtime premium:The Supervisors only receive time plus one half for all overtime worked whereas the Operator and Lead Hand grades receive double time after the first four hours and for all hours Sunday.
4. 1.10% Bonus:As a result of financial losses incurred since 2001, no bonus has been payable. Payments under the bonus scheme are dependent on conditions of the scheme i.e. that profit be made, and on return to profitability the bonus will again become payable.
2.Extension of the Operator Grade production bonus to Supervisors: The on-time delivery bonus scheme (OTD) was part of a negotiated settlement with the Union and applies only to hourly-paid employees. The Supervisors' profit related bonus does not apply to hourly paid employees.
3.Performance Appraisal:The annual pay increases for Supervisors over the last two assessments range from 4.5% to 8.5% and are reflective of how they performed throughout the year. The average increase was 5.5% whereas the National Wage Agreement was 4.7%.
4.Harmonisation of overtime premium:Supervisors are afforded a considerable degree of flexibility in determining their overtime schedules, including the amount of overtime they work. Conceding the Union's claim would be cost increasing at a time the Company is striving to reduce its overheads.
At the commencement of the hearing, the employer raised an objection to the admissibility of the case on the grounds that the conditions set out in Section 2(1)(d) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001 (as amended) had not been fulfilled. Specifically, the employer contended that the employees who are party to the dispute have engaged in industrial action since the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission by refusing to provide weekend cover at the June and August Public Holiday weekends. The Union denies that there was any industrial action. It contends that overtime is voluntary, and that on the occasions in question the employees chose not to work overtime.
In this instance, the Employer had not participated in the procedures set out in the Code of Practice. Nevertheless, it is submitted by the employer that the prohibition on the Court investigating the case is operative since the industrial action had taken place following the referral of the dispute to the Labour Relations Commission.
Conclusions of the Court on the Preliminary Point.
The Court is not satisfied that the action complained of constituted industrial action. Clearly, individual supervisors were requested to work overtime on the Public Holiday weekends in question. They declined to do so but did not make any particular demand on the employer, which, if conceded, would have caused them to provide the cover requested. Furthermore, the employer accepted at the time that the employees were entitled to refuse to provide cover in that it took no action against the employees nor did it indicate to them that they were not entitled to refuse to provide the cover. Consequently, the Court is not satisfied that the employees engaged in industrial action at any material time and that the requirement contained at Section 2(1)(d) has not been fulfilled.
In these circumstances, the Court makes no finding on the question of whether the statutory provision in question is operable in circumstances where an Employer has declined to participate in the procedures of the Code of Practice.
In relation to the substantive issues raised in this referral, the Court recommends as follows:-
1.Disciplinary Grievance Procedures.
In the correspondence to the Company, the Union did not specifically raise issues relating to the adequacy of the internal disciplinary grievance procedures. In the referral to the Court, the Union stated that the subject matter of the dispute related to issues previously identified to the Employer. The Employer contends that this could only be taken to mean the four issues raised by the Union originally, which did not include any issue relating to grievance or disciplinary procedures. Accordingly, it is the Employer's contention that they were not aware that this matter was to be raised before the Court and had not prepared any submissions in relation to this item.
Having considered the matter, the Court is not satisfied that this issue is properly before it and, accordingly, does not make any recommendation in relation to this item.
The Court recommends that the basis upon which the bonus is to be paid should be put on a formal footing and that the terms and conditions under which the scheme will operate should be clearly communicated to all affected employees. Specifically, where the bonus payment is related to profit targets, those targets should be disclosed, as should the actual outturn.
3.Extension of Operator Grade production bonus to Supervisors
The Court does not recommend concession of this claim.
It is the Court's view that there should be an internal appeals mechanism available for employees who are dissatisfied with the outcome of their appraisal. This could either be a separate process or it could take the form of a suitable amendment to the internal grievance procedure.
With regard to the Union's claim in relation to the six-month pay pause implemented in 2002, the Court notes that all employees were affected by the need to reduce costs, including those employees who are covered by collective bargaining and who contributed by way of short-time working. In these circumstances, the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim that the date of the review be returned to January of each year.
5.Harmonisation of Overtime Premia
The Court does not accept that there is any justification for the difference in overtime premia as between the production group and the supervisors' group. Accordingly, the Court recommends concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th October, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.