INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(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. Forklift bonus, prepacking and company efficiencies.
2. Shamrock Foods specialise in the warehouse and distribution of food products and employ approximately 175 workers in Ballymount , Dublin. The issues before the Court are:
- Company Efficiencies;
- Forklift Bonus, and (Relief forklift driver issue) ;
- Pre-packing (Co-packing);
- The current dispute involves the staff in the warehouse, including pickers and forklift drivers and the Companies proposal to introduce dual cycling and auto replenishment for forklift drivers, the use of cages for pickers and the introduction of agency staff to carry out duties which the Union claims can be done by permanent staff. It is accepted by the Union that the new work practices will be much more efficient for the Company. They claim that this improved level of efficiency should be compensated for by an increase in pay.
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 25th November, 2004 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 11th March, 2005.
3.1 This Company is one of the largest distribution companies of food products in Ireland. It has, with the help and assistance of their staff introduced new technology and work practices on an ongoing basis. This makes it one of the most modern and efficient warehouses.
2. The Union has worked positively with management to ensure long term efficiency of the Company.
3. At all stages workers have always accepted and co-operated with the need for on-going change to make the Company more efficient. But the new changes proposed by the Company are excessive to be referred to as ongoing change as identified in the National Agreement.
4. It would not be a cost increasing claim as the savings would substantially outweigh the cost.
5. It is believed, that while continuing with ongoing change, that the terms and conditions of employment must be protected and that the workers benefit from any substantial changes to be introduced which will result in massive savings for the Company.
4.1 It is the Company's view that these changes are "normal ongoing changes" as defined under Sustaining Progress. These methods are in widespread use by our competitors and throughout our industry.
2. The Company has honoured all its obligations to the Union under successive wage agreements and the claim for an increase in basic pay is cost increasing and would impact severely on the Company's competitiveness.
3. Workers will receive a gross lump sum (€1,000) plus increased bonus earning potential due to pick rate adjustment, with increased individual bonus by a projected €1,000 per annum. There is no basis for adjustments to the basic rate of pay.
4. The co-packing in question relates to a new activity in a new location with new technology. This function would operate at a loss if manned by company operatives at the prevailing rate.
Having considered the submissions of the parties it appears to the Court that the final position arrived at in conciliation is reasonable and should meet the Union’s aspiration for a share in the savings accruing from the proposed changes. As the Court understands it the Union’s principle objection to the proposals are that:-
(a) the projected level of savings has not been verified to its satisfaction,(b) the proposed adjustments in the bonus scheme, intended as a means of sharing the accrued savings, is not guaranteed,
(c) the workers fear a loss of overtime.
Each of these concerns should be addressed as follows:
The Court recommends that the proposal which emerged from conciliation be accepted and implemented subject to a review after two years of the levels of bonus achieved and the likely impact of the proposed changes in overtime earnings. In that regard the proposals are put forward on the basis that the projected increases in bonus earnings will materialise. If that projection is not realised the matter should be discussed further between the parties and if necessary processed through normal procedure. Furthermore, if it is anticipated, after the period for which current levels of overtime are guaranteed, that a reduction will occur, this should be similarly addressed.
Verification of projected savings
Since the projected savings will arise from a reduction of five in the number of jobs the value accruing from the reduction should be easily ascertained. Should the Union seek to verify the figures involved this facility should be provided to it or its professional advisers.
Initial Lump Sum.
The Court further recommends that the initial lump sum of €1,000 proposed be increased to €1,500
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.