INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HASBRO IRELAND LTD
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. 1. Upgrade of S&S Setters' Grading
2. This case concerns a dispute between Hasbro Ireland Limited and SIPTU in relation to the upgrading of S&S Setters (Grade C) to that of senior S&S Setters (Grade D). The Company is part of Hasbro Incorporated, a US multi-national company engaged in the production of toys and other leisure items.
The Union is claiming that the Company have breached procedures and previous agreements by unilaterally advertising and promoting four setters to senior setters. The Union's position is that all 22 setters should have had the opportunity to be upgraded and paid accordingly. The Company's position is that the agreed procedures provide that the additional work be undertaken in the first instance and a job evaluation excercise be carried out to establish if an upgrade is warranted.
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 matter was referred to the Labour Court on 17th July 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 27th September, 2006, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. By unilaterally promoting the four S&S setters to senior setters, management has breached agreed procedures. The WCM agreement reached in 1998 provides that all setters be evaluated and upgraded if necessary.
2. The Company also breached procedures by paying each of the four individuals for carrying out additional duties in any position that was not agreed with the Union.
4 1. The Company does not require and cannot sustain the additional costs of upgrading all S&S setters to S&S senior setters as it is operating in an extremely competitive environment and is in competition with low cost labour markets.
2. This issue has been ongoing for four years. Initially the Union would not co-operate with the additional duties prior to the payment of extra money and the job evaluation exercise. Now, the Union is prepared to partake in the extra duties and job evaluation. It is, however, too late as there is no longer a need for any more than eight senior setters in the Company.
3. Due to financial difficulties within the Company, cost offsetting measurements were sought prior to making payments under national wage agreements and the workforce has been significantly reduced in the past four years.
The case before the Court concerns a dispute over the Company’s requirements for new positions at Senior S/S Setters level.
The Union claimed that the Company was in breach of the WCM Agreement by advertising and filling positions at Senior S/S Setters level. It stated that the Agreement provides for changes to jobs, which are undertaken by all jobholders and that if changes are significant enough then the job must be evaluated through the Job Evaluation process. It maintained that there are no agreed positions at Senior S/S Setters level and held that all jobholders currently graded as S/S Setters on Grade C should be allowed to take on the additional tasks required following which the jobs should be evaluated in accordance with the agreed procedures. It also stated that it should not be necessary to undergo competency tests to progress to higher grades.
The Company told the Court that the Union refused to engage meaningfully in a job evaluation exercise when the Company sought the S/S Setter Group to take on routine maintenance work, during the period 2002 to 2004. It stated that the Union wanted money up front before it would agree to take on any new work. Consequently, due to the Company’s operational needs, it advertised 8 positions at Senior S/S Setters level in 2004, and 4 positions were filled - the issue of grading is still outstanding.
Following agreement with the craft union on the transfer of certain related craft work, disagreement prevailed with SIPTU over engagement in the evaluation process for the grading of this work and the alleged indication of “money up front”.
Resulting form the Union’s continued refusal to engage, the Company introduced a new Grade D as the highest grade relative to the previous grading structure.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court accepts that the Company’s requirements have changed and whilst in 2002 the Company was prepared to evaluate all 22 S/S Setters to incorporate the new maintenance tasks, the operational requirements now are for a lesser number of positions at S/S Setter level, and a need for a specified number (8) at Senior S/S Setter level.
The Court accepts that the Company cannot appoint staff to positions it no longer has a requirements for and therefore, recommends that the Union should cooperate with the evaluation and filling of the required number of positions at Senior S/S Setter level.
If there are further structural changes in the workplace as a result of the review of manufacturing which is currently taking place, these matters should be processed through the procedures of existing agreements.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th October 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.