SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Haugh
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Ms Tanham
1. Pay claim.
2. The dispute concerns a claim for a pay increase of 4% effective 1st July, 2018. As the claim was rejected by the company, it was subsequently 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, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14th March 2019.
3. 1. Since the previous pay increase more customers have come on board, overtime is being rostered and over thirty-five agency workers are now employed. The Union members feel that they are not sharing in this upturn in business.
2. The Union members (both direct and agency) earn a modest wage. The Union therefore feel justified in seeking a 4% per annum pay increase.
4. 1. The pay claim was rejected by the Company on the grounds that it is loss-making and has been for a number of years.
2. The Company acquired sanction to offer a 2.5% increase from 1stJanuary 2019. The Company stated that it could go no further than 2.5% from 1st January 2019 unless appropriate cost-offsets were agreed by the Union.
Background to the Dispute
This dispute relates to a claim for a pay increase following the expiry of the parties’ previous pay agreement on 30 June 2018. The parties unsuccessfully attempted to reach agreement in relation to this claim both locally and under the auspices of the Conciliation Service of the Workplace Relations Commission. As no agreement was reached at conciliation, the dispute was referred to the Court on 6 November 2018. The Court heard the matter in Cork on 14 March 2019.
The Union is seeking a pay increase of 4% for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. In support of its claim, the Union submits that business at the Company’s Cork plant has recently increased, new customers have been acquired and some thirty-five additional agency workers have been employed. The Union also submits that comparable employers are offering similar or higher wage increases than it seeks in the within referral to the Court.
The Company employs approximately 250 workers at its Cork site and some 900 in total across its Irish business. It submits that the Irish business has incurred substantial losses and that the Cork plant, in particular, has been loss-making for the previous four years although it is expected to break even in 2019-20 and make a modest profit in 2020-21. In the light of these projections, the Company indicated to the Court that it would offer a pay increase at its Cork plant of 2.5% for the period 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2019. It was submitted on the Company’s behalf that those of its comparators who are currently profit-making are awarding pay increases of 2 to 2.5%.
Discussion and Recommendation
The Court does not accept that the companies identified by the Union as comparators for the purposes of the within claim are appropriate comparators or that those named companies are awarding pay increases in line with what the Union is seeking in this claim. The Court is of the view that the Company’s submission in relation to the level of pay increases currently being awarded by the comparators it identified is substantially correct.
Having regard to the foregoing and to the Company’s projected return to profitability in 2020-21, the Court recommends that it grant the following pay increase at its Cork plant: 2.5% from 1 October 2018 to 30 June 2019.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th April, 2019Deputy Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran Roche, Court Secretary.