INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
REXAM BEVERAGE CAN IRELAND LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Compensation for loss of earnings on public holidays.
2. The Company is a manufacturer of aluminium beverage can-ends. It is located in Waterford and has a current capacity of 24 million can-ends per day. It employs 195 workers and operates a 12-hour 4-shift system working on a two-week cycle of day and nights.
The Union is claiming for a loss of earnings due to the Company's decision not to work public holidays in 2003 and 2004 - six public holidays from St Patrick's Day through to the October Bank Holiday. The reason given by the Company is a downturn in business (details supplied to the Court).
The Union's case is that there has been an agreement in place for the last 22 years in relation to three items:-
(a) Working of Public Holiday
(b) Reduction in uncertified sick days
(c) Reduction in work time accidents.
The six Public Holidays as mentioned were to be worked during the year on the following basis:- (1) those working for 12 hours would receive 48 hours' pay and (2) those who were off received 24 hours' pay. The Union estimates the loss in 2003 was approximately €1,600 per worker and, with projected curtailments in place on Public Holidays until 2007, the total loss will be €8,000 per person.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 24th of November, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd of June, 2006, in Waterford, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Company sought an agreement with the Union on the working of Public Holidays. An agreement was reached which included two other issues (a reduction in uncertified sick days and work time accidents) on which the Union conceded in relation to the working of the Public Holidays. There is only one package and the Company cannot "cherry pick" one part of it to suit itself. If the rest of the agreement is to stay in place the workers are entitled to the compensation being sought.
4. 1. The Company had to reduce work on Public Holidays due to a downturn in work, and it cannot be expected to pay a loss of earnings when it has suffered a cutback in production.
2. The decision as to whether Public Holidays are worked or not lies with the Company and is specifically provided for in the Company / Union agreement i.e. the Company will give employees 14 days' notice if production is not required on Public Holidays.
3. The claim, if conceded, is cost-increasing and precluded under the terms of Sustaining Progress.
Having considered the submissions of the parties and noting the provisions of the relevant agreement, the Court considers that the downturn from 2003-2004 following a loss in business caused by factors external to the Waterford plant and which were outside local control.
The Court, noting that new business has been obtained by the Company which has led to an improvement in the situation in 2006, does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th June, 2006.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.