SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
PREMIER PERICLASE LTD
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY CONNECT TRADE UNION)
Chairman: Mr Haugh
Employer Member: Mr Marie
Worker Member: Ms Tanham
1. The Maintenance Planner and The Materials Management Roles
2. 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 20 December 2019 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 13 February 2020.
3. 1. The Union argues that this role has always been filled from within the company.
2. The Union contends that this role was one of the few promotional opportunities for the Mechanical Fitting Group.
3. The Union argues that their members are not being treated in a fair and just manner with regards to being given the opportunity to fill this promotion, especially given the fact that the last promotional opportunity was in 1996.
4. 1. The Company states that the Union is solely interested in a job promotion irrespective of the suitability, qualifications or experience required for the role.
2. The Company states that the Parent Company over the last 18 months has invested approximately €10m in new technologies and new ways of working to improve the plant. They wish to appoint a suitably qualified individual with a focus on Preventive Maintenance for the efficient operation/improvements of the business.
3. The Company contends that the new role is not a chargehand/foreman role and is therefore outside the scope of the company union agreement and there is no obligation on the company to hire from within the current maintenance pool.
Background to the Dispute
This dispute concerns the manner in which Premier Periclase Limited (‘the Company’) has proposed filling the recently advertised position of Maintenance Planner and Materials Management Specialist.
There are currently fourteen qualified fitters employed in the Company’s Mechanical Fitting Department which is structured as follows: Fitter – Working Chargehand – Foreman – Superintendent. The Superintendent position combines two roles that were previously separate roles of Planner and Supervisor.
There is a comprehensive Company-Union Agreement in place which provides as follows for the manner in which vacancies, including promotional opportunities, will be filled:
- “Vacancies, promotions or otherwise, will be filled solely at the discretion of the Company. Promotional vacancies, if they are to be filled, will normally be advertised. The Company had the right to appoint the most suitable candidate to these positions. Chargehands and Foremen (but not necessarily Supervisors) will be appointed from within the department.”
The Company developed and published a comprehensive job description for the proposed Maintenance Planner and Materials Management Specialist role. The Company then invited applications both internally and externally for the role. Six internal candidates applied and were interviewed.
The Union submits that the role that has been advertised is not a new role – as claimed by the Company – but rather a reinstatement of the previous Planner role along with a Materials Management Role. In the Union’s submission, the role is therefore a promotional opportunity for which its Fitting Members should firstly have been considered before the position was advertised externally. The Union told the Court that its Members are highly skilled and experienced, meet all the educational requirements for the position, and therefore there was no basis for the Company’s decision to depart from the established custom and practice of filling such vacancies from within. Finally, the Union submits that the Company has breached the Company-Union Agreement by advertising the position externally.
The Company submits that the role of Maintenance Planner and Materials Management Specialist is an entirely new role which is focused entirely on preventative maintenance and managing stock levels of spare parts. The new role, it says, will not impact on the existing maintenance positions that focus predominantly on reactive maintenance. The Company further submits that it has not breached the Company-Union Agreement as it expressly provides that all vacancies “will be filled solely at the discretion of the Company”. The Company also told the Court that as the position will be at Supervisor level it is not confined by the terms of the Agreement to making the appointment to the position from within the Department.
Discussion and Recommendation
Having carefully considered the Parties’ submissions, the Court finds that the proposed position of Maintenance Planner and Materials Management Specialist at the Company’s Drogheda facility is for a new role with a very different focus to that of the existing roles within the maintenance fitting department. The Company is rightly seeking to appoint the best available and most suitably qualified and experienced individual to the new role. The Court further finds that the Company has acted in accordance with the Company-Union Agreement in doing so. The Agreement expressly provides that all vacancies “will be filled solely at the discretion of the Company”. The Company in exercising its discretion in this process afforded the opportunity to all suitably qualified fitters currently employed in the Maintenance Department to compete for the new role.
The Court, therefore, recommends that the process to fill the new position proceeds to conclusion at the very earliest opportunity.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13 March 2020Deputy Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Mary Kehoe, Court Secretary.