INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
TARA MINES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IBEC)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
2. Tara Mines Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of New Boliden, a Swedish based mining and smelting Company operates a zinc/lead mine in Navan Co. Meath. The Mine which commenced operation in 1977 presently employes 660 workers. The dispute before the Court arises over the validation of tonnages for the calculation of bonus earnings for the production mucking crew (crew 23, which consists of 42 workers) in the Company. This is a complex matter relating to the validation of tonnes hoisted from underground and processed through the Mill. The Union contends that this is a breach of an agreement which stems from an acknowledgement by Management that they have been deducting 2% approximately of tonnes per man shift for what Management call'moisture content.The Union claims that this is not in any of their agreements. The Union's claim is that in the current contract the workers do 398 tonnes per man shift which equals 100% of contract. When the 2% is deducted the actual tonnes per man shift would become 406 tonnes for 100% of contract approximately based on the Union's calculations. This equates to a loss of €400 per year per person on the crew. The present dispute is whether the workers bonus should be based on day tonnes or wet tonnes. This practice has been in place since the mid 1970's. On the 23rd March, 2004 an offer made by the Company was rejected by the Union.
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 20th October, 2003 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd September, 2004.
3.1 In March, 2003 the Union became aware of a discrepancy in tonnes produced and the'flagging'of thephasemoisture content.
2. Local meetings with Management along with a Conciliation Conference confirmed that the practice of deducting 2% from tonnage was in place since mid 1970's.
3. The workers were always under the impression that their bonus was based on wet tonnage and were shocked to discover in 2003 that the Company were deducting the moisture content.
4. The Union estimates the costs to each worker as €20 per shift.
4.1 It is the Company's contention that the procedure for the validation of tonnes hoisted, in place since production commenced is the correct procedure.
2. The issue of the difference in weights used in the calculation for bonus was only raised by the Union in April 2003, despite the fact that this system has been in use since the early 1980's.
3. In March, 2004, the Company offered to reduce the contract by 2% i.e. reducing the contract from 398 tonnes per manshift to 390 tonnes per manshift. The Union rejected this offer.
4. The Company offered to reduce the contract requirement by 8 tonnes per manshift, backdated to 16 October, 2002, 6 months earlier than the issue was raised in April, 2003.
5. The Union's claim is unsupported, unworkable and unfair.
6. The Company considered their offer more than fair and reasonable.
The Court has considered the oral and written submissions of both parties. The Court notes that the issue of the calculation of the production mucking bonus has been the subject of a long running dispute between the parties.
To resolve this dispute, the Court recommends that in lieu of the Company's offer of 23rd March, 2004, which was rejected by the Union, a new offer should be made to pay a goodwill lump sum payment of €1,500 to each member of the Crew 23 together with the 2% adjustment in the bonus to take effect from the date of this recommendation. The Court recommends that this offer should be accepted by the Union in full and final settlement in the dispute.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th September, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.