INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay rates
2. The Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Heineken Ireland. The Company relocated from Ballybofey to Letterkenny in February, 2003, and a relocation allowance of €50.55 was agreed for all workers who made the move. The Union's case is as follows: in April, 2005, a Worker (A) left the Company but subsequently returned one week later. Following talks with the Company his rate of pay was increased by €1.00 per hour to its current level (at February 2007) of €12.30 per hour. The Company currently operates three separate pay rates at its Letterkenny site for Yard/Store Workers and Drivers as follows:
Worker A - €12.54 per hour
Yard staff - €10.23 per hour
Drivers - €11.46 per hour.
The Union claims that the workers concerned (including Worker A) do exactly the same work and that their pay rates should be harmonised.
The Company's case is that when Worker A returned after one week it removed his relocation allowance. In an effort to maintain his historical earnings the worker was asked to take on some additional computer/driving duties and he was paid an additional €1.00 per hour. When other workers discovered this in June, 2006, the Union raised it as an issue with the Company. The Company admits that it was a mistake to give Worker A the additional money. In an effort to resolve the issue the Company offered to withdraw the additional €1.00 per hour and either restore the relocation allowance or pay him 1.5 times the annual loss. The Union was not agreeable to this.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a Conciliation Conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 1st October, 2007, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relation Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 13th February, 2008, in Sligo.
3. 1. It is unfair that one Worker should be paid an additional €40 per week than his colleagues who are doing exactly the same work. The contends that Worker A has not carried out the additional computer duties he was assigned.
2. The other workers are being doubly penalised as their overtime payments are lower than Worker A's due to his higher hourly rate.
4. 1. The Company is involved in an increasingly competitive market environment and cannot consider increasing the rates of pay for all the workers involved in the claim. If that happened it would lead to other similar claims from employees in the Company's other depots.
2. The Company has made what it sees as a fair and reasonable offer to settle the dispute.
The Union submitted a claim seeking harmonisation of pay rates within the Company’s depot based in Letterkenny. It sought to have the rates of pay for Drivers and Yard/Stores Staff brought up to the rate which applies to one individual (Worker A) and sought retrospection back to June, 2006, when the discrepancy became apparent.
The Company submitted that this one individual was paid at a higher rate due to historical factors and to his requirement to be flexible – he is employed in the Yard/Stores area, however, he is expected to drive a truck as the Company’s demands dictate.
Having considered points raised by both parties, the Court accepts that along with a small number of other workers, Worker A was on a “personal-to-holder” rate due to the payment of a mileage allowance when the Company depot changed its location in 1995. However, the allowance was removed from him when he temporarily left the Company in 2005 and it was replaced by a lesser amount on his return. In an effort to address the discrepancy which exists, the Company offered either to replace the original allowance to Worker A or to buy out the amount which replaced it.
The Company also stated that the remuneration package for drivers was currently under negotiations with the prospect of the introductions of new commissions payments. It also stated that the rate of pay applicable to Yard/Stores Staff in Letterkenny is in line with the rates paid to Yard/Stores Staff in its other depots.
The Court is of the view that the discrepancy which arose due to payments being made to one individual must be considered in the context of the historical factors which prevailed in this case and, accordingly, these factors are insufficient to merit a pay increase for other members of staff. Therefore, the Court is of the view that the Company’s offer to replace the original allowance to Worker A, thereby maintaining the status quo of those with “personal-to-holder” payments, should be accepted and the Court recommends accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd March, 2008______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.