INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. The dispute concerns approximately 124 workers employed in Network Catering. The duties of the claimants involve catering services to passengers on board trains and at ground catering outlets. The Union's claim for an increase in pay and benefits arises under the "New Deal" Agreement as part of the "Change Process" on going in the Company since 1997. Negotiations commenced in 2000. The Company proposes changes in pay and conditions in return for greater flexibility, productivity and the implementation of effective inventory control methodologies. The Company has sustained significant losses and the reorganisation is proposed with a view to returning the Company to profitability. The Union is prepared to fully cooperate with Management proposals if pay rates are reviewed at this stage. A Company proposal put forward in October, 2004 was rejected by the Union on the basis that the Company had reduced the contract hours on offer without consulting the Union. The offer was subsequently withdrawn by the Company. The existing rates of pay, Company offer and the Union's claim are detailed as follows:
Existing rate Company offer Union's claim
Catering Assistants €6.92 €8.50 €9.50
Attendants €7.92 €9.53 €10.20
Head Attendant €8.53 €13.70 €14.00
Chef €9.36 €12.33 €12.50
Store Supervisor €9.40 €12.40 €12.60
Equipment Stores Porter €6.95 €8.50 €9.50
Train Loader €7.92 € 9.53 €10.20
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 23rd June, 2004 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 25th January, 2005, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Union agreed to substantial changes in productivity and flexibility in return for which workers were to receive pay increases in two phases. While the Company conceded the first phase, the second instalment has not been paid. Pay increases were primarily to be financed out of the new flexibilities.
2. Management has now withdrawn the pay proposals in their totality even though the Union has worked in good faith to address all issues.
3. The Union is seeking an increase in pay at this time and then it will engage with the Company on any further change proposals required.
4. 1. The Company has suffered substantial losses in 2003 and 2004.
2. The Company implemented a significant improvement in pay, following negotiations in 2003, at a cost of approximately €700,000. The essential cost offsetting measure agreed at the time was the implementation of an inventory control system. In the event, the additional cost of the pay increases implemented, were not offset by cost reduction measures.
3. The Company made a final offer in October, 2004 on the basis of rosters and contract hours proposed by Management, the proposals were rejected. The Company was not in a position to implement further increases.
Within the next couple of months, the Company intend to put together a major business plan to ensure the sustainability of the onboard train catering business.
The Union indicated their commitment to fully subscribe to the Company's efforts to restructure the business and indicated that they have been addressing the Company's previous survival plans in the last three years. The Union are now in dispute with the Company's attempts to change their contracted hours and are seeking an increase in pay.
This matter has been ongoing for some time and was the subject of a previous Labour Court Recommendation in 2002.
At this point, there seems to be a lot of confusion over what is required - rosters and contract hours have been changed and not agreed and the Company has belatedly announced their intention to introduce a new survival plan. The Union is unsure of the Company's current direction.
The Court accepts that there is merit in the Union's claim for an improvement in the rates of pay. This improvement should reflect changes, which have been achieved so far, and changes required from the new business plan.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, and in light of the fact that discussions on a restructuring plan have been ongoing since 2000 but without finalisation, the Court recommends that all outstanding items should be identified and addressed between the parties.
This process should be completed by mid April, 2005. If there are outstanding issues, the parties may refer back to the Court for a definitive recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th February, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.