INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Introduction of Long-Service Increment
2. The Arcadia group, UK owned, has 81 outlets in Ireland trading as either stand-alone stores or as concessions in large department stores. The Company is comprised of 7 brand names, Topshop, Topman, Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton. The dispute before the Court concerns a claim by the Union, on behalf of its members, for the introduction of a Long-Service Increment (LSI) of 5% after 8 years at the maximum of the salary scale, on the basis that this is the norm in the retail industry in Ireland. The Company rejects the claim on the basis that it is in breach of Sustaining Progress.
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 3rd August, 2005, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 19th October, 2005, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
UNION'S ARGUMENTS:3. 1. Long Service Increments have been incorporated into the remuneration package of sales assistants/advisors since 2000/2001 throughout the retail sector in Ireland. The value of LSI has been recognised by most retailers as an important tool in the retention and motivation of long-serving and loyal staff.
2. LSI's have been agreed by most employers in the retail trade at this point in time. LSI increments apply in Boots, Debenhams, Dunnes Stores, Penneys, Brown Thomas, Roches Stores, Argos. These Companies have negotiated the LSI's in addition to basic increase provided under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness and more recently under Sustaining Progress.
3. Employees of the Arcadia group working in Department Stores such as Roches Stores or Debenhams are working alongside staff who are receiving LSI's. They are entitled to be treated no less favourably than their colleagues in the retail sector. The majority of staff are on the Standard Scale which falls significantly below comparable scales.
2. Arcadia is a speciality womanswear and menswear retailer, with no other diversification of products, and it is not comparable to the Companies cited by the Union. The Companny's current competitive position makes it inappropriate of Management to consider wage increases outside of Sustaining Progress.
3. Only 32% of Companies surveyed in the IBEC Retail Sector Survey of May 2005 paid Long-Service Increments. This emphasises that a LSI is not standard in the retail sector and Arcadia is not out of line with comparable employments.
The Court noted the various Companies which the Union tabled as having Long Service Increment's (LSI's) during the currency of various National agreements.
The Court is satisfied on the basis of all of the information before it that the Union's claim has merit. The Court is further satisfied that even if conceded in full the cost of the claim would be minor in overall terms.
Having regard to all the circumstances of this case the Court recommends that the Company introduce an LSI of 5 % for those with ten years service who have reached the top of their scale, with effect from the date of acceptance of this Recommendation. The parties should then seek to identify cost-offsetting measures to cover the costs involved. Subject to having identified and agreed such savings the qualifying period for the LSI should be reduced to eight years in 2007.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th October 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.