INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Payment for loss of earnings due to Company changing rosters without agreement during 2004 and 2005.
2. The dispute arose as a result of the Company's proposals to introduce a new agreement on work structures and pay for 30 workers at the Mallow plant to replace the previous Collective Agreement of 2002. The rosters contained in the 2002 Agreement provide for 44 weeks of a production cycle (shift work) and eight weeks of a shut down (day work). Average earnings are based on a total of 52 weeks . In 2004/2205 due to poor market returns the Company made a commercial decision to cease Whole Milk production earlier than scheduled. This meant the claimants doing less than the forty four weeks on shift and more weeks on day work. The Union claimed that the Company introduced the changes without agreement and in contravention of the 2002 Agreement and sought payment of the losses incurred in full. Local discussions and a number of conciliation conferences under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission failed to resolve the dispute. A three week industrial dispute followed which was resolved following a return to work settlement brokered by the Labour Relations Commission on the 22nd December, 2005. The issue in dispute is a component element of the settlement and was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 20th January, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 23rd March, 2006.
3. 1. The Union is seeking that any remaining monies due to workers be paid to them in relation to the 2004/2005 seasons. The Company did not engage in discussions with he Union on the roster changes and implemented them arbitrarily. Any change required in the 2002 Agreement must be done by prior consultation and agreement and not by imposition as was done by the Company.
2. In relation to the Company's proposals any change in the pay structure would lead to a reduction in workers' redundancy entitlements in the event of plant closure. It is not acceptable that workers in this situation should take a substantial loss of their in earnings when the loss of their jobs is imminent, knowing that such a reduction would lead to a loss in their redundancy package.
4. 1. The Company's proposals are essential for the future processing on the Mallow site and to ensure the continued success of the restructuring of the business. The Company acknowledges the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Mallow operation, however, there is no decision at this point to cease production at the Mallow site. In light of the uncertainties regarding Mallow's future, the Company undertakes that in the event of a site closure on or before December, 31st 2007, there shall be no reduction in redundancy entitlements arising from any reduction in earnings subsequent to the introduction of these required changes in Mallow.
2. In relation to the 2004/2005 season a guarantee was given to staff that earnings opportunities would be provided to ensure that no worker would experience a loss as a result of the Company's decision. The losses incurred by workers are as a direct result of the fact that these reasonable earnings opportunities were foregone in both years.
Having considered the submissions of the parties in this complex dispute, the Court recommends that
(i) The Company should compensate in full for the loss of earnings accrued via the implementation of the revised rosters in 2004.
(ii) the Company should compensate for the loss of earnings accrued via the implementation of the revised rosters in 2005, less any hours not worked due to official industrial action taken by the Union's members.
(iii) Account should be taken of the €1000 already advanced from the total of (i) and (ii) above.
(iv) The Union should meaningfully engage with the Company on its proposals for the future subject to the clear guarantee given by the Company that, in the event of redundancy occurring before the end of 2007, reckonable pay for the purposes of calculating the redundancy formula will be as set out in the current Company-Union Agreement, with no deduction for loss of earnings occasioned by any new working arrangements agreed between the parties.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th March, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.