SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SAINT-GOBAIN CONTRUCTION PRODUCTS (IRE) LIMITED
- AND -
30 GENERAL OPERATIVES
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Hayes
Employer Member: Mr Marie
Worker Member: Mr McCarthy
1. A Dispute regarding the scheduling of three shift working
2. This dispute concerns the manner in which the Company has given effect to three shift working.
The Unions argues that guarantees that the Company gave that Friday night working would not be part of its normal shift pattern have not been honoured. It argues that the Company gave a further commitment when the move from two to three shift working was under discussion that when Friday Night shifts were required it would operate them as overtime shifts with appropriate premium payments.
Management argued that Friday Night working is expressly provided for in the Company Union Agreement. It argues that it has done no more than give effect to the terms of its agreement with the Union.
- This dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 8th November 2016 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14thNovember 2016.
3. 1. The agreement together with the collateral commitment from Management that Friday Night would not form part of the normal shift pattern was balloted upon and accepted by the Workers. Had that collateral commitment not formed part of the agreement it would not have been accepted by the workers in the plant.
2. Barely a month after that ballot the Workers were shocked when the Company informed them that extra orders had come in and the implementation of Friday night working would now go ahead.
3. The Union contends that the Company cannot cherry pick its agreements. It must comply with both the agreement and the collateral interpretation of that agreement and cannot unilaterally change the agreement to the detriment of the workers affected.
4. 1. It was agreed that until such time as the market demanded, Friday night/Saturday morning shift would not be utilised. This clearly recognised that it would, when necessary be available for utilisation. That is now the case.
2. The Company has honoured all aspects of the agreement which provided for increases in shift premium, red-circling protection, improved share purchase scheme and the regularisation of temporary employees.
3. The Company has, without success, invested over €70,000 working with the Union to identify a more efficient and economic way of operating. In the absence of a more economic alternative the Company argues that it must be allowed to proceed with a strategy designed to underpin employment and secure the future of the business.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions of both parties to this dispute.
The Court notes the terms of the Shift Operation Agreement. The Court also notes the collateral clarifications of that Agreement issued by the Company.
The Court finds that the terms of the Agreement and of the Clarifications are difficult to reconcile with each other.
In those circumstances the Court recommends that the parties re-engage with a view to agreeing terms on which the plant will operate into the future.
Those talks should be informed by a full and frank exchange of all of the information that underpins the Company’s and Union’s requirements. The parties should avail of the services of relevant financial and production experts and the Workplace Relations Commission if necessary, to assist them assess the information provided and develop alternatives that make provision for the efficient operation of the Company and address the work life balance needs of the staff.
Those talks should be completed within six weeks of the date of this Recommendation. Any issues outstanding at the end of those discussions should be referred to the Court for a definitive recommendation.
Pending a definitive recommendation the interim financial arrangements in place in the Company should continue.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st December, 2016.Deputy Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran Roche, Court Secretary.