SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
BERENDSEN (IRELAND) LIMITED T/A ELIS
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SEVEN GENERAL OPERATIVES
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
The Employer put forward an offer of a 2% pay increasefor all of the company’s staffcommencing January 2019. This was rejected by the Union.
In discussions at the Workplace Relations Commission an improved offer was made to the Workers covered by this claim. This offer was for a voucher in lieu of a 2% increase from 1 January 2019 to 30 April 2019; a 3% increase from 1 May 2019 and a 2.5% increase from 1 May 2020. This offer was rejected by the workers who sought a 5.5% increase from 1 May 2019.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2 October 2020.
3. 1. This group of Workers have not received a pay increase in 12 years.
2. The Workers concerned have always been a separate bargaining unit.
3. The company overall is financially soundand the value of the contracts on which the Workers are engaged has not been reducedand is profitable for the company.
4. 1. The business has been severely impacted by the Covid 19 Pandemic.
2. The Workers who are party to this dispute are currently being supported by the Temporary Wage Subsidy Schemeand it is not credible that Workers in this situation would be given pay increases.
3. Concession of this claim would have knock on effects that could affect the company’s finances.
The Court must always be mindful in respect of any pay claim of any factor that may inhibit the ability of an employer to meet the claim. Obviously, the current pandemic has the potential for implications to arise in this regard. However, the economic and commercial effects of the pandemic are not uniform and the Court is obliged to examine the circumstances of each case on its individual merits.
In the instant case, the Employer is in receipt of payments in respect of the Workers concerned under the Government’s Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. However, the Workers are engaged in working on two of the Employer’s contracts with hospitals. There has been no reduction in the value of those contracts to the Employer. It appears that the Employer is eligible for payments under the scheme because the Workers concerned are part of a larger business unit within the employment and this unit meets the requirements of the scheme, rather than because of any commercial issue in respect of the two hospital contracts referred to and the Workers on those contracts themselves. It is also an accepted fact of considerable significance that the Workers covered by the claim have always been treated as a stand-alone bargaining unit for the purposes of pay negotiations. In those circumstances, which are unique to the Workers concerned, the Court is of the view that the fact that the Employer meets the requirements of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for payment in respect of them is not, in and of itself, a sufficient basis for the Court to refuse to recommend any pay increase, especially as the Workers concerned have not received an increase in pay in 12 years.
The Court notes also that the Employer is not claiming a financial inability to meet the claim.
However, the Court can see no basis for any improvement on the offer made previously by the Employer. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the Workers now accept that offer in full and final settlement of their claim. The offer is summarised as follows;
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran Roche, Court Secretary.