INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(2), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Interpretation of normal ongoing change under Towards 2016
2. The Company is engaged in the manufacture of human and animal medicines in its facility in Crumlin. The Company is inspected every two years by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) to ensure it complies with the minimum standards known as Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). In 2004 the IMB Inspector stated that he expected the recording of weight checks in the fillroom to be recorded in the Lot Processing Record (LPR) by the Operator. This weight check is carried out every half hour by the Operator but is not recorded. The Company committed that it would address the situation by having the Operators (currently 13) sign/initial three check sheets. The checks were carried out by the Operators in November, 2006, but shortly afterwards the Union informed the Company that it regarded this as extra work and that its members were refusing to sign the documents. The Company regards the work as normal ongoing change under Towards 2016.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and two conciliation conferences took place. As the parties did not reach agreement the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 4th May, 2007, in accordance with Section 20(2) of the Industrial Relation act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd August, 2007.
3. 1. Traditionally the Company has always rewarded the taking up of extra duties and responsibilities by paying a higher grade on a short, medium or long-term basis, something not disputed by the Company.
2. The 13 Operators who will be single-signature sign-offs have concerns about the increased responsibilities and possible ramifications vis-a-vis discipline etc. They also wish to be treated no less favourably than colleagues who have previously been rewarded for carrying out higher duties.
4. 1. Section 1.2 of Towards 2016 refers to the parties' commitment to "...full co-operation with normal ongoing change and the need for continued adaptation and flexibility...".The Company believes that the changes in the current dispute are covered by Section 1.2 as above.
2. The Operators were already doing the work so the only extra accountability for them is that they sign that they did the check. It is not their responsibility for the quality of the product.
3. Operators of different grades currently conduct and record checks at various stages in the process (details supplied to the Court) without additional payments.
The net issue before the Court in this Section 20(2) referral is whether the change proposed by the Company constitutes normal on-going change within the meaning of clause 1.9(iv) of the pay agreement associated with Towards 2016.
The Court has always understood the concept of normal on-going change in contra distinction to significant or major change. In the circumstances of this case, and on the information available, the Court is satisfied that the change proposed is properly classified as normal on-going change. In that regard the Court is satisfied that the change proposed amounts to a different way of discharging the same function as hitherto. The Court further accepts the Company's assurance that the change will not involve any material increase in the responsibility attaching to the job. Accordingly, the Union should co-operate with the proposed change.
Other issues raised by the Union in the course of its submissions are not pertinent to the issue before the Court and cannot be dealt with in this referral.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th August, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.