INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
S2(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2001,
AS AMENDED BY THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS(MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT, 2004
QK COLD STORES LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
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 Company is a service provider to the dairy and meat processing industries. The Union's claim is on behalf of 6/7 employees made up of forklift drivers and general operatives. The claim is as follows:-
Rates of Pay:
(1) An increase from €443.43 to €480 per week for forklift drivers, and €428.22 to €460 per week for counter-balance forklift drivers.
The Union is seeking the introduction of a pension scheme but acknowledged at the hearing that it was not a major issue for the employees.
Health and Safety:
The Union raised a number of issues including the lifting of heavy boxes and the need for all forklift drivers to receive training and certificates by the end of May, 2006.
Changes in Shift:
A major issue is in relation to weekend work. The Union claims that workers are often informed at very short notice that their start time for the following day (usually Friday) is to be changed. It is seeking a minimum of one week's notice in relation to a roster.
Grievance and disciplinary committee:
The Union is seeking that procedures comply with the general provisions of the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (S.I. 146 of 2000). At the hearing the Company indicated that it would not have a problem with this.
The dispute was referred to the Advisory Service of the Labour Relations Commission. As a number of issues remained unresolved it was referred to the Labour Court on the 8th of March, 2006. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 19th of April, 2006.
3. 1. Rates of pay at the Company are out of line with comparable industries (details supplied to the Court).
2. Health and Safety is of major concern to the members. The high-reach drivers have a very tough job as they spend most of their time working in the freezers. Operators on the loading bay have to lift boxes weighing up to 40 kilos.
3. Workers are often required to work late on Fridays or on Saturday / Sunday. If workers are to be rostered they should have a minimum of one week's notice.
4. 1. The Company has not made a profit for the last five years. In 2005 it recorded a loss of €60,000 and there is a projected loss of €150,000 for the current year. The Company believes that its rates of pay compare favourably with the average rates in the industry.
2. The issue of workers being available to provide service to customers at the weekend is central to Company requirements. If the Company cannot provide this service customers have many other choices in service providers. If all employees contributed it would mean that they would have to work a maximum of eight Sundays per year, going on past experience.The Company has no problem in paying overtime when necessary.
This dispute was referred to the Court pursuant to Section 2(1) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, 2001, (the Act). The Court is satisfied that the conditions specified at Section 2(1)(a) to 2(1)(d) of the Act are fulfilled in this case and that the dispute is properly before the Court for investigation and recommendation.
This dispute has been referred 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 Disputes Resolution (S.I. No. 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 S.I. No. 76 of 2004 the Union, on behalf of its members in the Company, submitted a list of claims to the Labour Relations Commission. Following discussions at the Advisory Service, a number of issues were referred to the Court :- rates of pay, sick pay scheme, pension scheme, health and safety issues, changes to starting and finishing times, grievance and disciplinary procedures and paid time off for shop stewards.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court recommends as follows: -
Hourly Rates Of Pay and Pay Scales
The Court recommends that the current rates be adjusted as follows:-
High Reach Forklift Drivers: €465.00 per week
Counter Balance Forklift: €445.00 per week
The Court recommends that these rates should be further increased in line with any new wage agreement agreed at national level with effect from 1st June, 2006.
The Court recommends that in return for acceptance of the increases in pay, workers should facilitate the Company’s request to work the overtime on Saturdays and Sundays during the peak season. The Company should endeavour to ensure that workers are provided with rosters at the beginning of the season and that every effort is made to set rosters agreed with the workforce.
Sick Pay Scheme
The Court recommends acceptance of the Company’s offer to introduce a sick pay scheme made at the Advisory Service. The offer was outlined as follows:
Service Duration of Benefit
0 – 12 months : no entitlement
12 – 36 months : 15 days sick leave less Social Welfare Benefit
36 months + : 20 days sick leave less Social Welfare Benefit
No payment for the first three days of illness, Medical certification must be submitted to the Company on the third day of illness. A single days absence may be deemed as unauthorised absence.
The Company has a PRSA in place and has given a commitment to review the claim for the introduction of a pension scheme in mid 2007, depending on the Company’s financial situation at the time. At that time consideration will be given by the Company to making employer contributions to the scheme for all those employees who wish to contribute to a scheme. The Union informed the Court that this commitment would be acceptable to their members. Accordingly, the Court recommends in favour of this commitment in respect of the claim for a pension scheme.
Health and Safety Issues
The Union raised a number of Health and Safety issues, concerning the training of Forklift Drivers, appointment of trained safety representative, provision of a safety statement and lifting of weights. The Company indicated that these issues are currently being addressed, a new safety statement has been devised and is available to all, safety training and training on forklifts is currently underway, and progress has been made on introducing other safety measures designed to eliminate the necessity to lift heavy weights. The Union informed the Court that it is satisfied that the Company has made commitments to address the issues raised.
The Court recommends that the commitments on health and safety given by the Company at the hearing should be honoured.
Procedures to Deal with Changes in Working Hours
The Union raised a difficulty with the notification of changes in working hours which occurs on Fridays, stating that insufficient notification is required when workers are required to start one hour later, with consequential changes to finishing time.
The Court recommends that notification of changes in staring time/finishing time must be notified at least 24 hours in advance.
Furthermore, the Court recommends that requirements to work overtime after normal finishing times on Fridays should be notified to the workers concerned by no later than 2.00 p.m. on Friday.
Grievance and Disputes Procedures
The Union claimed that the current internal procedures for the processing of issues relating to individual grievances and disciplinary matters are inadequate in that they do not provide for representation of employees by a trade union in appropriate cases.
The Court notes the Company’s commitment to put in place a disciplinary and grievance procedure which will conforms with the general provisions of the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (SI 146 of 2000) and that appropriate provision will be made for representation by an employee representative as provided by paragraph 4.4 of the Code.
Any dispute on this issue should be processed through the procedures provided for by Section 43(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990.
Code of Practice on Employee Representatives (S.I. 169 of 1993)
The Union claimed the application of the above-mentioned Code of Practice. The term "Employee Representative" is defined by this Code as follows:-
- "employee of an undertaking or establishment who have been formally designated employee representatives for that undertaking or establishment by a trade union in accordance with the rules of that trade union and any employer/trade union agreement which relates to the appointment of such representatives in that undertaking or establishment and who normally participate in negotiations about terms and conditions of employment for all or a section of the workforce and who are involved in the procedures for the settlement of any disputes or grievances which may arise in that undertaking or establishment."
It is clear that this Code of Practice is directed at employment in which collective bargaining normally takes place. As it is not the practice of the Company to engage in collective bargaining this Code of Practice is not applicable to its employees and the Court does not recommend that the Union's claim be conceded.
The recommendations herein, save where otherwise appears, should be implemented within one month from the date of this recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th May, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.