INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY CRAFT BUTCHERS OF IRELAND)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY MICHAEL CORCORAN)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay Claim/Compensation.
2. The two workers concerned have been working for the Employer since the 14th January 2002 and 7th September 2003 respectively. They were recruited from Eastern Europe through the services of a Recruitment Agency.
The Employer states that conditions of employment were agreed prior to taking up the positions. The essence of these conditions were that both employees would work for the national minimum wage obtaining at any given time and would be facilitated to work essentially as many hours as they wished. A part of the package was that accommodation would be provided for which deductions of €120 per week from pay would be made.
The workers are now seeking to be paid for all hours worked in excess of 39 hours per week. They are also seeking the appropriate rate of pay for a) a butcher/ boner and b) the rate applicable in the JLC agreement for the Retail Grocery and Allied Trades Sector. Furthermore the Workers are seeking to have the correct annual leave entitlement applied and compensation for loss of earnings concerning public holiday entitlements. There is also an issue concerning the sum being deducted for accommodation.
The claim was referred to the Labour Court on the 25th September, 2006, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Workers agreed to be bound by the Court’s recommendation. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 16th November, 2006.
3. 1.The Workers have worked in excess of 39 hours per week without receiving pay for those hours over and above a 39-hour week.
2. The Workers believe that the hourly rate of pay they receive is below the recognised hourly rate for the trade and that the amount being deducted for accommodation is excessive.
3. The Workers have only received 3 weeks paid annual leave per year which is below the statutory minimum. They have also had to work a day to make up for not working on a Public Holiday.
4. 1. The Employer accepts that he acted in ignorance of the legal requirements in respect of working hours, annual leave and public holidays. He will honour the outstanding entitlements in respect of public holidays and annual leave.
2. The Employer maintains that the hours worked were with the willing agreement of the Workers concerned.
3. At all stages the Workers concerned were paid no less than the national minimum wage when the appropriate allowance for board is factored in.
While many issues were raised in this case which could form the basis of claims under other employment rights legislation, the dispute is before the Court for investigation and recommendation under the Industrial Relations Acts.
The Claimants are natives of the Ukraine and Poland and are employed by the Employer on work permits. They are in effect, seeking terms and conditions of employment similar to those to which Irish workers engaged in similar work could aspire. On pay, the Court accepts that the rates prescribed by the Employment Regulation Order for the Retail Grocery and Allied Trades provide a fair indication of what could be regarded as a reasonable level of pay for shop workers, whether or not the business is actually encompassed by the ERO. Likewise, in the case of the work of a butcher, the rates negotiated by the relevant employers and SIPTU are a fair reference point for work of this nature.
It is noted that the Employer accepts that some of the complaints made by the Claimants in relation to holiday entitlements are well founded. The Employer has offered to make reparation in respect of these claims but has so far failed to do so. There is also a claim in respect of deduction from the Claimant's wages in respect of accommodation and food supplied by the Employer. In that regard the Court notes the amount deductible for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 in respect of board and lodgings is €54.13 per week. In the Court's view this is an appropriate level of deduction in the circumstances of the Claimants.
The Claimants are further claiming premium payment in respect of hours worked in excess of 39. Again the Court considers that this claim is reasonable and in line with normal practice.
For all of the reasons referred to above the Court is satisfied that the claims before it are reasonable. The Court therefore recommends that the claims be conceded.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th November, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.