INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Redundancy option.
2. The issue refers to allowing a redundancy option to 15 workers in the butter department in Kerry Ingredients, Charleville. The Company has offered alternative employment in another department (cheese string) following the wind down of the butter department. There would be no loss of earnings or change of conditions of employment in the changeover.
- The Union claims that traditionally on cessation of a business in the Company that the option of redundancy was always offered which now constitutes a custom and practice and precedent. The Company acknowledged that historically there were redundancies when lines ceased operation but this arose because there were no options for alternative employment in the plant.
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 8th May, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st June, 2006.
3.1 The Union is seeking that the 15 workers concerned be given the option of redundancy terms or relocation to other business units if available. This has been the case in past closures, transfers of business or out sourcing of work.
2. The Union claims that there is custom, practice and precedent for this, and that redundancy should be an option in this instance. The Union cited a number of examples of past instances where redundancy was an option.
3. The Union claims that the workers concerned could have taken up a similar option in 2002 but chose to stay, believing the Company was going to build up the remaining business on the Charleville site and not transfer or out-source this business elsewhere.
4.1 The Company should not be asked to fund totally unnecessary redundancy costs. Change is part of every successful Company, it is covered in the Sustaining Programme Agreement, the terms of which have been fully honoured by the Company.
2. In unison with other food companies, the Kerry Group is being hit by rising costs, reduced margins, increased competition and that anticipated growth may not materialise in 2006. The milk business nationally is under huge pressure, changes in that business will have to be embraced and accepted by all concerned to help it survive.
3. In all previous redundancy scenarios there was a 'net loss of jobs'. In this case there are full time jobs on the site and on the same terms and conditions of employment. In this instance the Company should not have to give the employees affected an option of redundancy.
4. Over the years there were a number of situations where operations were closed or downsized. These occurred for a number of reasons, e.g. lack of profitability, mechanisation, outsourcing of product/services, consolidation of businesses to other sites etc. In all these situations there were few occasions if any where comparable alternative work was available on the same site.
The Union sought the inclusion of an option for employees to avail of redundancy when the Company decided to discontinue its Butter making operations at its plant in Charleville. The Company proposed to transfer employees from its Butter Factory to the Process Cheese operation, which it proposed to expand.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court is of the view that the employer is fulfilling his obligations to the workers by offering them re-deployment on the same terms and conditions of employment. Therefore, the Court can find no grounds for recommending a redundancy option and does not find in favour of the Union’s claim.
The Court recommends that the parties should discuss re-deployment terms as the optimum option in the overall interest of the workers and the maintenance of employment.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.