INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
S2(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2001,
AS AMENDED BY THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS(MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT, 2004
TARA SERVICE STATION LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE DAS GROUP)
- AND -
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. The issues in dispute which concern a number of workers employed by the Company who are union members are as follows:
The introduction of an agreedGrievance and Disciplinary Procedure
The Company does not recognise the Union for the purposes of collective bargaining. The issues in dispute were referred to the Advisory Service of the Labour Relations Commission under the provisions of the Enhanced Code of Practice on Voluntary Dispute resolution (S.I .76 of 2004). Both parties engaged in the process. Agreement was reached on the introduction of a Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure which conforms with S.I. 146 of 2000. The remaining two issues were referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 2 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001 as amended by the Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions Act), 2004. A Court hearing was held on the 25th January, 2006.
3. 1.Pay. The claimants are on the ERO (Retail Grocery and Allied Trades Joint Labour Committee) minimum rates of pay i.e. €7.80 - €8.24 per hour. These staff are experienced with two having ten years service, others with five years, four years and the remaining workers with less service. In the Limerick Distributive Trades, pay scales in organised employments start at approximately €8.00 per hour with progression to a maximum of approximately €11.50 per hour plus long service recognition payments. It is not reasonable to expect the claimants to continue working for a rate which is considerably less than the rate in organised employments.
2. The Garvey's Centra in Newcastlewest is an analogous employment whose current pay scale is €7.97 per hour by five increments to €10.62 per hour with a Charge Hand rate of €11.41 per hour. There are also long service increments after 10-15 years. The Union seeks the introduction of a five point scale which would start at €8.00 per hour and progress to €10.60 per hour after four years service. Individual workers should be assimilated onto the pay scale based on their service and experience.
3.Christmas Bonus. A Christmas Bonus of between 1- 4 weeks gross pay is a benefit which is widely applied in the Retail Sector. Garvey's Centra has a Christmas Bonus of equivalent to one and a half week's wages or approximately 3 %. This bonus is paid in addition to the long service payments . Staff with over two years service receive the one and a half week's while staff with between one and two years service receive one week's gross wages. The Court has consistently recommended that employers in the Retail Sector should pay a Christmas Bonus of at least one week's gross wages at Christmas. (LCR's 17607, 18207 refer). The Union is seeking the introduction of a Christmas Bonus equivalent to two week's gross wages for all staff who have completed one year's service.
4. 1.Pay. The Company pays its workers the agreed rates of pay as laid down in the Employment Regulation Order (ERO) for the Retail Grocery and Allied Trades Joint Labour Committee. The Company accepts that its business falls within the parameters of the ERO. Its rates of pay are in line with the mandatory requirements as set out therein. The Company has carried out a survey of other employers in its sector. The results of the survey show that the Company's rates of pay and pay scales are in compliance with the ERO. The Union is seeking to make improvements to the ERO which, if accepted by the Court, will ultimately result in legally binding and enforceable Orders against the Company only and will not apply to competitors who will remain bound only to comply with the ERO. In a recent recommendation in favour of a company who paid its employees the JLC pay rates the Court in its recommendation was satisfied that these rates were not out of line with appropriate standards. (LCR 18346 refers).
2. The Company does not accept Garvey's Centra as a valid comparator as it is a much larger operation.
3. In relation to the offers made by the Company for an increase in the rates of pay for nominated workers at discussions at local level and at the Advisory Service meeting, the Union rejected the offer and it was subsequently withdrawn by the Company.
4.Christmas Bonus. The Union in seeking to have a Christmas Bonus introduced is clearly attempting to introduce a new provision altogether which was not included in the ERO and any Recommendation/ Order made by the Court will ultimately bind only the Company and not its competitors.
5. The Company will be placed in a competitive disadvantage in terms of its running costs when compared to employers who are bound by the ERO.
This 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). 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.
This dispute has been referred to the Court 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 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.
Utilising the provisions of SI. 76 of 2004 the Union submitted three claims to the Labour Relations Commission – an agreed pay scale; a Christmas bonus equivalent to two weeks gross wages and an agreed grievance, disciplinary and disputes procedure. The Court notes that it was accepted by both sides that the latter claim in relation to the grievance, disciplinary and disputes procedure was resolved as the employer committed to put in place a disciplinary and grievance procedure, which conforms to the general provisions of the Code of Practice on Grievance, and Disciplinary Procedures (S.I. 146 of 2000).
In response to the Union’s other claims, the employer contended, inter alia, that having regard to the pay and conditions of employment which it provides, when viewed in their totality, are not out of line with appropriate standards. In support of its contention, the employer stated that its pay and terms of employment are in accordance with the Employment Regulation Order for the Retail Grocery and Allied Trades Joint Labour Committee (ERO). It stated that its business falls within the parameters of the ERO and contends that its rates of pay are in line with mandatory requirements as set out therein. The employer gave details of the difficult trading conditions it is currently experiencing and submitted that if it were compelled to pay higher terms than provided for in the ERO it put its business at a serious disadvantage vis-á-vis its competitors. The employer produced data indicating that similar businesses in the trade pay in accordance with the terms of the ERO.
In response, the Union cited two Labour Court Recommendations where the Court recommended in favour of increases in ERO terms for workers involved in the grocery trade. The Union informed the Court that in an attempt to resolve this dispute the employer was prepared to increase rates of pay for certain workers in recognition of their long service. However, as the offers made by the employer were considered to be inadequate, all were rejected.
Having examined the submissions of both parties, the Court is not satisfied that the Union has established that rate of pay in businesses of a similar size and trade are above the rates paid in this establishment. Furthermore, the Court takes account of the employer’s commitment (consistent with S.I. 146 of 2000) to introduce procedures, which will allow the involvement of a Trade Union representative at disciplinary, and/or grievance meetings held to deal with individual employee concerns.
In all the circumstances of this case, the Court can see no basis on which it would recommend concession of the Union’s claims for the increase in pay and the introduction of a Christmas bonus.
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
2nd February, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.