INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JOHNSTON PRESS IRELAND
- AND -
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Redundancy Terms
2. In April 2007, the Company announced a restructuring programme which involved the centralising of certain operations and the introduction of new technology. This would affect all ten of the Company's sites. A 30 day period of consultation began with the Union where the need for voluntary redundancies was discussed. The Union contend that in a letter dated the 19th April, 2007 the Company stated that should there not be enough voluntary redundancies, compulsory redundancy may be necessary. The Company argue that they met three times in the Labour Relations Commission and because of the Union's refusal to accept the need for voluntary redundancies they moved to a compulsory situation. At the LRC Conference the Union argued that compulsory redundancy was in breach of the guarantees under the 1998 Technology Agreement.
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 could not be reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 19th June, 2007 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 26 July, 2007.
3. 1 The individual sites in question are highly profitable entities in their own right and centralisation of production is a pursuit of maximising profit margins at the cost of local employment. The destruction of these local jobs is damaging to the local economies of the provincial towns affected. The possibility of alternative employment in the same sector in these provincial towns is very low.
2 The offer in the context of a compulsory redundancy package is totally inadequate. Of the 71 employees affected, 32 will have in excess of 30 years service and some in excess of even 40 years service. Additionally, the cap of two and a half years salary as proposed will impact negatively on the majority of those targeted for dismissal. Though redundancy has never been a feature in this sector, the very few cases where it occurred the full service of members was recognised.
3 A central pillar of the 1998 Technology Agreement was that no redundancies would be made compulsory. The Agreement accommodated technology changes which contributed to the very large profits made by the Company's provincial entities. The present proposals do not recognise the tangible employee contributions that have created the success of the Company.
4 The 1998 Agreement also substantially improved the defined benefit pension scheme. The effect on employees forced into redundancy situation is that their future pension situation in retirement will have quite unexpectedly been subject to a considerable disimprovement.
4. 1 Without new technology the Company is not able to compete successfully in the market place. Other Companies in the same market place have already adopted the new technology. The Company is one of the last in Europe to introduce this new modern technology.
2 The Company's redundancy terms are very generous and compare favourably with those offered by our competitors.
3 Unlike other companies in the sector, certain functions are not outsourced. This involves investment in training and realigning people skills and demonstrates the Company's commitment to retain and redeploy as many people as possible.
4 The Company have chosen to engage in partnership with the Union and try and reach agreement as espoused by all parties who have signed up to the Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016. Other companies in the industry have chosen to realise their redundancy requirements with minimal consultation with their employees or representatives.
Having considered the submissions made by the parties, the Court Recommends that, noting the compulsory nature of the redundancies and the overall service profile, the Company's offer of 4 weeks pay per year of service in addition to statutory entitlements should apply to the workers concerned, but there should be no upper limit or "cap" applied to the overall payment.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd August, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to David P Noonan, Court Secretary.