INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
S2(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2001,
AS AMENDED BY THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS(MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT, 2004
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Referral from the Labour Relations Commission under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001, as amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004.
2. Johnson Matthey Pharmaceutical Materials Ireland (JMPMI) is located in Little Island, Co. Cork and currently employs thirty-four staff. The Company is involved in the development and manufacture of highly specialised products known as prostaglandins. The Union, representing eleven staff employed mainly in the production area, referred a number of issues to the Advisory Service of the Labour Relations Commission in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution (S.I.No.76 of 2004). It is not the practice of the Company to engage in collective bargaining for the category of workers party to the dispute and it maintains that its consultation with employees has always been done as an entire group with regular briefings and opportunities for questions and discussion.
- The Advisory Service hearing took place on the 13th April, 2005, and a number of issues remained unresolved as follows:
1. Performance appraisal
The Union’s claim remains that full transparency and equity should be agreed and the Union is calling for the involvement of a full time Union Official at the appeals stage.
The Company maintains that the appraisal process has been improved. Employees have more involvement and the concerns regarding the appraisal process raised by the Union have been addressed. The Company maintains that there is no legitimate claim in this regard.
2. Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures
The Union’s claim before the Court is that in line with S.I. 146 of 2000, that the members can avail of Trade Union representation through the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure.
The Company will accept a Union Representative to attend any meetings held as part of the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure. This has always formed part of the Company’s Grievance and Disciplinary and therefore, the Union has no legitimate claim regarding this matter as representation, but not collective bargaining, has always and continues to be provided for by the Company.
3. Sick Pay Scheme
The Union’s claim is for amendment of the current Sick Pay Scheme from a 4 tier scheme to a 3 tier scheme as follows:
Up to 6 years 8 weeks full pay, 8 weeks half pay
6-10 years 13 weeks full pay, 13 weeks half pay
10 years + 26 weeks full pay, 26 weeks half pay
The Union believes that concession of its claim will bring the Company’s Sick Pay Scheme more in line with the Industry.
The Company’s Sick Pay Scheme is a generous scheme and one that compares favourably with Companies of a similar size and operating a similar business so therefore, the Union has no legitimate claim in this matter.
4. Good Friday
The Union’s claim is for 1 day in 2004, 1 day in 2005 and the immediate re-instatement of the Good Friday day off entitlement from 2006 onwards.
Employees were very well compensated for the legitimate cessation of the practice of closing of business on Good Friday. All JMPMI employees receive 23 days Annual Leave, which is in excess of statutory entitlements. The revised conditions of employment , which in overall terms were very favourable to employees have been accepted and implemented and it is not now an option to remove the one and only provision that resulted in a slight decrease for employees.
5. Share Option Scheme
The Union’s claim is that the Company did not adequately communicate the benefits of the scheme to its staff and should now allow Irish staff to participate in the Share Option Scheme. This is in line with all other staff in Johnson Matthey Corporation who have the same choice.
The Company gave staff the option of entering the Share Option Scheme but the staff voted against entering the scheme and instead accepted a 3.5% pay increase. The Company refutes the Union’s claim and maintains that there is no opportunity to reverse this decision.
6. Bonus Scheme
The Union’s claim is for clarity regarding what the Bonus Scheme entails and for the provision of timely information about the Staff Profit Bonus Scheme.
The Company rejects the claim that it is unwilling to provide clear information on the scheme and contends that it has presented details of the scheme on numerous occasions verbally, and in writing and that therefore there should be no confusion as to the detail of the scheme.
The matter was referred to the Labour Court for investigation under Section 2(1) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001, as amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 27th October, 2005.
The dispute was referred to the Court pursuant to Section 2(1) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001 as amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2004 (the Acts), following the failure of the parties to reach agreement in relation to the matters at issue at the Labour Relations Commission under the enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute Resolution (S.I. 76 of 2004).
The Court is satisfied that the conditions specified at Section 2(1)(a) to 2(1)(d) of the Acts were fulfilled in this case and that the dispute was properly before the Court for investigation and recommendation.
The Court has taken careful account of the submissions of the parties in their written and oral presentations. Section 5(2) of the Act provides that a recommendation made by the Court shall not provide for arrangements for collective bargaining. Subject only to that restriction the Court is required to give its opinion on the matter under investigation and, where appropriate, its view as to the action, which should be taken, having regard to the terms and conditions of employment, in the employment concerned.
In response to the Union's claims, the Company contends that the Court, under Section 5(2), must have regard to the conditions of employment, which it provides, and when viewed in their totality, are not out of line with appropriate standards.
The Company, therefore, contends that the intervention of the Court under Section 2(1) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001, as amended, is not warranted. In support of its contention, the Company pointed out that its terms and conditions of employment are very competitive and are comparable to those pertaining in the medical devices and manufacturing industries. The Court notes the commitment given by the Company at the Labour Relations Commission on 13th April, 2005, where it outlined its acceptance of the involvement of a Trade Union representative at disciplinary and / or grievance meetings held to deal with individual employee concerns.
The Court considered it desirable to first consider this aspect of the Company's response since, if it succeeds on this point, it may be unnecessary to consider in detail the other issues raised in the case.
The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001, as amended, provides a significant addition to the powers of the Court in industrial relations disputes. In considering the nature of the new powers given to it, and the circumstances in which it is appropriate to invoke them, the Court has stated in recommendation LCR17745 (Bank of Ireland and IBOA) as follows:-
"The powers which are given to the Court by the Act are a far reaching departure from the normal approach to the resolution of industrial relations disputes. They provided, in effect, that the Court may arbitrate in a dispute on the unilateral application of one party and in circumstances where the other party may not consent to the process. It seems to the Court that, having regard to the voluntary nature of out industrial relations system, such an intervention is only appropriate where it is necessary in order to provide protection to workers whose terms and conditions of employment, when viewed in their totality, are significantly out of line with appropriate standards".
As the Court has previously pointed out, such protection is only required and the intervention of the Court justified, where it can be demonstrated that pay or conditions of employment are out of line with accepted standards -GE Healthcare and SIPTU, Recommendation No 18013.In that context regard should be had to terms and conditions applicable to similar categories of workers in analogous employments in which there is collective bargaining.
The Court has been provided with information on the terms and conditions of employment in this Company.
In the present case, the Court cannot see any basis upon which it could conclude that the terms and conditions of employment of those associated with the claim, when viewed in their totality, are out of line with acceptable standards. In consequence, the Court does not consider it appropriate to issue substantive recommendations, under Section 5(1) of the Act, on the claims under investigation.
In respect of the claim regarding disciplinary and grievance procedures, the Court wishes to point out that in the event of a complaint alleging an infringement of the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (S.I. 146 of 2000), such complaint can be addressed pursuant to Section 43(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.