INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
EASON & SON LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Claim for retrospection of 2% increase due under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF).
2. The Company employs 1,300 workers at 23 locations nationwide.The terms of the amended PPF provided for the payment of an additional 2% increase payable from 1st April, 2001. The Company decided not to make this payment on the grounds that it had already paid increases significantly in excess of those provided for in the original PPF and that the imposition of additional pay costs would put competitiveness and employment in the Company at risk. The issue was the subject of a Labour Court investigation and recommendation. In LCR16942 the Court recommended that the claim should be deferred for a period of one year from its due date. The recommendation was rejected by the Union and a ballot was held for industrial action. In order to prevent this occurring the Company made an offer to the Union on the 7th December, 2001 that the 2% payment due under PPF would be paid effective from 1st February, 2002 and that there would be no retrospective payment involved. The offer was accepted on the 9th January, 2002, following a ballot of the workforce. In December, 2003 the Union submitted a claim for payment of the retrospective element of the 2%. The Company rejected the claim. 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 4th October, 2004 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 13th January, 2005.
3. 1. The increases awarded under Partnership 2000, which the Company used as an excuse not to apply the 2%, were long overdue. They only brought the pay rates in the Company up to the level of the norm in the industry.
2. The 2% award under the amended PPF, although initially resisted by the Retail Trade, was eventually paid in full by all major retailers.
3. Management forecast all kinds of threat to the employment levels in the Company if this 2% was conceded. It was conceded, albeit under some duress, but these never materialised. The Company financial position appears to have improved substantially.
4. Payment of the outstanding retrospection to workers would not impose a significant cost on the Company, in view of its profitability.
4. 1. The agreement reached provided that there would be no retrospective payment of the 2% increase paid in February, 2002. This agreement had been balloted upon and accepted by the Union in January, 2002. The Union is now seeking to ignore this provision by pursuing this claim.
2. The agreement reached between the parties exceeded the terms of LCR 16942 which recommended that the 2% be deferred until April, 2002. The Company has been generous and paid this increase with effect from 1st February, 2002.
It is clear beyond doubt that the issue now before the Court was resolved in an agreement concluded between the parties in January, 2002. This agreement was unconditional and was in full and final settlement of the dispute concerning the payment of the 2% increase.
In these circumstances the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th January, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.