INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ABBOTT IRELAND (COOTEHILL)
- AND -
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay increase
2. Abbott Ireland is a wholly owned subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, Chicago USA a diversified healthcare company which employs over 60,000 people worldwide. The Company has nine different sites in Ireland employing over 3800 workers. The dispute before the Court is in respect of the Coothill Plant, Co. Cavan which manufactures a range of baby powder infant formula which is exported on a worldwide basis. There are currently 255 employees in the plant of which 20 are members of TEEU and to whom this case refers to. The Union is seeking increases that would be comparable with the Electrical Contracting National Joint Industrial Council (ENJIC) rates of pay, or failing this position, the Union argued for an average rate of pay based on a comprehensive survey of 2005 carried out by IBEC with adjustments to take into consideration national wage increases since April 2005.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of Conciliation Conferences under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. At Conciliation the Company put forward proposals to resolve the matter namely:
- 5 % increase effective 1st September 2006
- 5 % increase effective 1st September 2007
- 5 % increase effective 1st September 2008.
The proposals were put to the workers in a secret ballot but were rejected overwhelmingly. The dispute was then referred to the Labour Court on the 26th March, 2007 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 10th July, 2007.
3.1 The Union stated that the current basic rate of pay for craftworkers is €17.46 per hour and there has not been any increase in this rate since 31st August, 2006.
2. The Current ENJIC rate of pay per hour is €21.49, a huge difference especially when the skill and knowledge base of the craftworkers is taken into account.
3. The Union gave details of a comprehensive IBEC survey taken in April 2005 giving details of the national average rate of €20.47 for the Industry and the Union is seeking that rate of pay for its workers from 1st January, 2007.
4.1 The Company is operating in a global market and facing intensive competition with further competition in 2009 when the new Singapore Plant comes on line. Currently over 40% of the produce produced is exported to the Far East.
2. The Company contends that the offer made at Conciliation is the very best that can be done in the context of a 3 year agreement.
3. The Company stated that it was operating in a very competitive business environmentfacing extensive competition from third party manufacturers and also internally within the Company and cannot pass on any price increases to its customers. Some customers are seeking price decreases. The Company contends that any deviation from the proposals put forward at Conciliation would have implications for overall competitiveness and would potentially have an impact on job security.
4. The Company argued that its current pay and benefits package is very competitive in the Cavan/Monaghan area and its objective is to secure the jobs of employees into the future and the offer put forward is very fair and competitive both locally and nationally.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Union’s claim on behalf of craftsmen employed in the Company for a substantial increase in pay. Having examined the oral and written submissions of both parties the Court does not accept that the rates of pay applicable to the craftsmen are out of line and can see no grounds to recommend an increase in the Company’s offer made at conciliation on 30th November 2006. Accordingly, the Court rejects the Union’s claim and upholds the Company’s position.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th August, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.