SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
PFIZER IRELAND LTD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Foley
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr Shanahan
1. Defined Benefit Scheme.
2. This is a dispute concerning a defined benefit scheme. 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 26th August, 2016, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 12th October, 2016.
3.1. The Company has mistakenly taken the view that an agreement reached on one site for new hires under different circumstances, can be imposed on another site where there is no agreement.
2. New entrant's terms and conditions should be the same as those covered by the collective agreement.
3. The Company doesn't have the right to alter terms and conditions without agreement. There are established negotiation procedures to be followed by either party in the event that changes to terms and conditions are sought.
4.1. The Company was up-front in it's dealing with the Union and made it's position perfectly clear in advance of any extra new hires. The Union received correspondence on the approach and was party to both discussions and agreements.
2. The cost of the belated disagreement of the Union cannot be borne by the Company.
The Court has considered in detail the written and oral submissions of the parties. The Court is asked to address an issue related to the pension arrangements to apply to approximately 100 staff (approximately 50 of whom were represented before the Court).
The parties made the Court aware that the issue of pension arrangements in general in the employment has been under discussion between them for a period of two years approximately. The Court has separately considered that matter in May 2016 and issued Recommendation number 21221.
The Company has submitted to the Court that it advised the Union in October 2015 that it had no mandate to recruit staff if the recruited staff would be required to be admitted to the Defined Benefit pension scheme then under discussion. The Trade Union contends that it responded to that correspondence on various occasions between October 2015 and February 2016. The company has since recruited 100 personnel and may recruit more personnel in the coming period. The company advised the Court at its hearing that were it to have understood that staff recruited after October 2015 would have to be admitted to the Defined Benefit pension scheme it would not have been able to recruit. Similarly it has submitted that any such requirement into the future would result in an incapacity to recruit.
The Court must consider all matters put before it in a pragmatic manner and in particular must take account of all relevant impacts of its recommendations. The Court acknowledges that an agreement exists between the parties as regards pension arrangements and that discussions related to that agreement were the subject of LCR21221. The Court supports the contention that agreements should be honoured until replaced by a fresh agreement. The Court accepts however that the union side was under notice of the company’s intentions as regards the arrangements to apply to new staff before they were recruited and in that regard the Court also understands the current pension mandate of the company as regards the recruitment of new staff. The Court notes the Union contention that its position in this matter was conveyed to the Company.
The Court recommends that, without prejudice to the position of either side, the pension arrangements to apply to the 100 staff referred to in this claim and any further staff who may be recruited prior to the conclusion of an agreement should be addressed by the parties as part of the discussions recommended by the Court in LCR21221. In accordance with that Recommendation, any unresolved issues remaining at the conclusion of those discussions should be referred back to the Court for a definitive recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14 November 2016______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jason Kennedy, Court Secretary.