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SIPTU welcomes extension of Bausch and Lomb plant in Waterford

Date Released: 01 August 2017

SIPTU members at the Bausch and Lomb plant in Waterford have welcomed the unveiling of an extension to the facility which it is anticipated will secure its operation into the future.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Alan O’Leary, said: “Our members welcome the unveiling of the new extension and confirmation that the Bausch and Lomb parent company, Valeant, has invested €200 million in the Waterford plant since 2014.

“In 2014, our members in the plant faced its threatened closure with the potential loss of 1,200 jobs. In response they took the very tough decision to accept reductions in their pay and conditions of employment in order to secure the long-term future of the plant. A pay restoration agreement, that will restore the pay cuts they endured, was subsequently accepted overwhelmingly by our members in December 2016.

He added: “A key goal for the union in reaching both negotiated agreements in 2014 and 2016 was that the parent company Valeant would invest in existing jobs and in extending production facilities at the Waterford site. Valeant has now delivered on these commitments.”

SIPTU Organiser, Allen Dillon, said: “The last few years have been very difficult for our members in Bausch and Lomb in Waterford and their families. However, with the Valeant investment and its creation of a further 300 jobs over the past three years the future now looks more secure for our members. This investment is very important to the plant workers, the local community in Waterford and the wider economy of the South East of the country.”

Date Released: 03 April 2017.

SIPTU announces resolution of new entrants pension dispute in Pfizer in Ringaskiddy

 

SIPTU members in Pfizer Ireland Ltd., Ringaskiddy, County Cork, have settled a dispute with the company following its agreement to allow 35 new entrants access to its defined benefit pension scheme.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Alan O’Leary, said: “Over 250 SIPTU members have been engaged in industrial action for more than eight weeks, since 27th January, at the Pfizer Ireland plant in Ringaskiddy, County Cork, over the refusal by the company to allow 35 new entrants access to the defined benefit pension scheme.

“In correspondence to the Labour Court last Friday (31st March) the company confirmed that it was agreeable to the 35 SIPTU members joining the existing defined benefit pension scheme.

“The union is pleased with the resolution of the dispute at Pfizer. Over 250 of our members were engaged in the industrial action which included an overtime ban because they felt very strongly that new employees should be treated equally and provided with the exact same terms and conditions of employment as all existing employees.”

He added: “This dispute was essentially about equal treatment and fairness. All SIPTU members at the company welcome the resolution of this dispute. The dispute is now resolved to the satisfaction of our members and the industrial action has been ceased.

“Union representatives will be meet with the SIPTU workplace committee shortly to consider the overall situation relating to the defined benefit pension scheme”.

 

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16th February

 

SIPTU members suspend strike action at Kerry Group to facilitate Labour Court hearing

 

SIPTU members have suspended scheduled strike action at the Kerry Group plants in Charleville, County Cork, following an agreement by management to attend a Labour Court hearing concerning the dispute at the company.

 

SIPTU Organiser, Terry Bryan, said: “Yesterday (Wednesday, 15th February) evening the company confirmed that it would attend a Labour Court hearing in respect of the current dispute at its plants in Charleville.

 

“The company has further agreed to lift the notice of lay-off and protective notice that was issued to employees last week. SIPTU representatives have also confirmed they will attend the Labour Court hearing and have agreed to suspend a planned 24-hour work stoppage at the plants on Friday (17th February).”

 

The dispute at the plants in Charleville, County Cork, has already resulted in a series of 24-hour work stoppages in recent weeks.

 

For further information contact:

 

SIPTU Organiser, Terry Bryan: 087 244 4194

 

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10th February

 

 

SIPTU members in Kerry Group escalate dispute with four more work stoppages 

 

SIPTU members at the Kerry Group plants in Charleville, County Cork, have scheduled four 24-hour work stoppages over the next two weeks (Tuesday 14th, Friday 17th, Tuesday 21st and Friday 24th February) in a dispute which results from the company’s refusal to attend the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

 

SIPTU Organiser, Terry Bryan, said: “Workers at the food ingredient plants have already conducted three 24-hour work stoppages as part of this dispute. Unfortunately, the company took the highly provocative step of utilising strike breakers to run one of the plants during our members’ work stoppage on Thursday, 9th February. This was done to undermine our members while they are engaging in a legitimate trade dispute and it would be very much hoped that management will not repeat this provocation.”

 

He added: “Management has also issued our members with notice of lay off and protective notice. These moves are unnecessary and unwarranted as the dispute could be resolved simply by the company agreeing to return to the WRC. This would be both compliant with the company’s agreed dispute resolutions procedures and indicate its respect for the State’s industrial dispute resolution mechanisms. SIPTU representatives remain available to attend the WRC to try and find a resolution.”

 

The items that are in dispute at the Kerry Group plants include proposed changes to shift patterns and terms, job rotation and appointments. These matters were due before the Labour Court on 28th November, 2016. However, management withdrew from that scheduled hearing and has now refused to attend a conciliation meeting at the WRC.

 

For further information contact:

 

SIPTU Organiser, Terry Bryan: 087 244 4194

 

SIPTU members in Kerry Group to conduct stoppage in response to company refusal to attend WRC

 

Date Released: 24 January 2017

 

SIPTU members at the Kerry Group plants in Charleville, County Cork, have overwhelmingly voted to implement a one-day work stoppage on Monday, 30th January, in response to a management refusal to attend a conciliation meeting at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to discuss proposed changes to workers’ terms and conditions of employment.

SIPTU Organiser, Terry Bryan, said: “Our members have voted by a margin of 94% to 6% in favour of taking industrial action as a direct result of a management decision to withdraw from the WRC process. This provocative step by management is clearly in breach of the agreed dispute resolution procedures at the company.

“The collective agreement on dispute resolution is a procedural method of dealing with matters of disagreement between the company and our members. It clearly states that should a matter remain unresolved between the parties, then it shall be referred to the appropriate third party body, in this case, the WRC.”

He added: “The items that are in dispute include proposed changes to shift patterns and terms, job rotation and appointments. These matters were due before the Labour Court on 28th November 2016. However, management withdrew from that scheduled hearing and have now refused to attend a conciliation meeting at the WRC.

“The one-day stoppage is avoidable if the company complies with its agreed dispute resolution procedures and attends the proposed WRC meeting.”

 

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SIPTU members in Bausch and Lomb plant in Waterford accept WRC proposals

 

Date Released: 20 December 2016

 

SIPTU members in the Bausch and Lomb plant in Waterford, County Waterford, have voted by a substantial majority to accept Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) proposals aimed at resolving a dispute concerning workers’ pay and conditions of employment.

SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Gerry McCormack, said: “Our members have concluded that the WRC proposals offer a satisfactory manner in which to resolve the dispute at the company. Our focus will now be on ensuring that the proposals are implemented in full and timely manner.”

 

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20th September

 

SIPTU members in Glen Dimplex plant in Newry vote to accept pay proposals

 

SIPTU members at the Glen Dimplex manufacturing plant in Newry, County Down, voted overwhelmingly today (Tuesday, 20th September) to accept pay proposals which resulted from negotiations that followed a month long campaign of industrial action.

 

SIPTU shop steward, Alan Clark, said: “After four weeks of a work-to-rule campaign and two 24-hour work stoppages, our members decided to suspend their industrial action to allow talks with management concerning a pay rise every chance of success.

 

“At these talks agreement was reached on a set of pay proposals which have now been accepted by the vast majority of the workers. We believe that this new pay deal will protect the livelihood of workers in the plant.

 

SIPTU workplace representative, Ollie White, said: “SIPTU members voted by more than four to one to accept the new pay deal.”

 

He added: “Glen Dimplex is a profitable company and it is only fair that its employees should receive a reasonable pay rise due to the crucial role they play in the company’s success.”

 

SIPTU Organiser, Denis Sheridan, said: “Across the manufacturing sector, SIPTU is successfully negotiating pay rises for its members. This agreement will benefit the company and workers in the long term as it will ensure that everyone at Glen Dimplex is adequately rewarded for their hard work in producing its high quality products.”

 

There are approximately 120 SIPTU members employed at the Glen Dimplex plant in Newry which has been in operation since 1973.

For more information, contact:

SIPTU Organiser, Denis Sheridan: 00 353 87 926 4592

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25th June 2016  –

 

SIPTU calls for protection of Irish manufacturing sector following Brexit vote

 

SIPTU has called on the Government to immediately begin negotiations with the UK aimed at stabilising the trade in manufactured goods between the two states in the aftermath of the British vote to leave the EU.

 

SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Gerry McCormack said: “Currently around 16% of goods manufactured in the Republic of Ireland are exported to the UK. This figure rises significantly in the agriculture, food and drink sectors.

“We had warned that a Brexit vote would provoke a period of dangerous uncertainty in terms of trade between the two States. That is the reality we now face.

 

“It is imperative that the Government immediately begins discussions on a bilateral and EU level that are aimed at protecting the interests of the manufacturing sector in Ireland in light of the result of the UK vote.”

 

Gerry McCormack added: “In the short-term, manufacturing in Ireland faces the problem of the devaluation in Sterling. This will make Irish exports more expensive for British consumers. In the medium and longer-term, the new relationship that will be negotiated between the EU and UK will have a major impact on manufacturing in Ireland.

 

“However, the sector can overcome these challenges with adequate support. Always, in such periods of crisis some unscrupulous employers will perceive an opportunity to attack workers’ wages and conditions. Our members will not accept such attacks and will work collectively to ensure that workers in Ireland, north and south, do not become victims of the British vote to leave the EU.”

 

For further information contact:

 

SIPTU Manufacturing Organiser, Gerry McCormack, 01 8586440.

 

Solidarity with people of Belgium

The Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), gathering today for a meeting in Brussels and bringing together trade union leaders from all over Europe, expressed its solidarity with the people of Brussels and the victims of this morning’s horrific bomb attacks.

“We are with all the people in Brussels who have been injured or killed, with their families, with all those dealing with this frightening situation, and with those who are seeking news of family, friends and colleagues” said Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the ETUC.

“It is beyond comprehension that anyone would wish to bring such suffering and misery to others.”   

“This murderous attack in Brussels is an attack on Belgium and on Europe” said Rudy De Leeuw, President of the ETUC. “The perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice. We must be strong and blame only those evil individuals involved in the attacks. They want to divide us and we refuse, even in this emotional moment.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SIPTU and UNITE members to begin strike in Mondelez Ireland tomorrow 

SIPTU and Unite members will begin a strike of indefinite duration at the Cadbury’s production plant in Coolock, Dublin 5, tomorrow (Thursday, 3rd March) at 7.00 a.m. in a dispute concerning the outsourcing of jobs.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, John Dunne, said: “Union members voted overwhelmingly to take this action following an announcement by management that it intends to unilaterally implement a Labour Court recommendation and outsource the jobs of 17 directly employed store workers. The work stoppage at the plant will continue until management ends the attempt to outsource these jobs.

“The Labour Court recommendation had previously been rejected by a large majority of the 350 union members employed in the production plant. SIPTU and UNITE members proposed further talks on reducing costs and increasing flexibility in relation to the operation of the store facility at the plant. This proposal was rejected outright by management leaving the workers with no option but to take the industrial action that will begin tomorrow morning.”

SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Gerry McCormack, said: “The attempt to outsource these jobs is seen as a further erosion of the viability of the facility. It follows the movement of the production of the ‘Time Out’ bar from this plant to Poland.

“Workers at the plant have over recent years agreed to the major restructuring of operations and changes in work practices. However, the attempt by the management of Mondelez International to further downgrade the plant’s operations has caused outrage and increased fears among the workforce about its long-term commitment to the facility.”

 

 

SIPTU criticises failure to end VAT break for non-compliant hospitality sector

SIPTU has criticised the failure of the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, in Budget 2016 to end the preferential 9% VAT rate enjoyed by the profitable hotel and restaurant sector that includes many businesses that are exploiting low paid workers.

SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Ethel Buckley, said: “The reduction of the VAT rate in the tourism and hospitality sector from 12.5% to 9% was originally introduced in 2011. The annual cost in lost revenue to the State of the reduced VAT rate is €350 million. A staggering €1.4 billion has been lost to the State’s coffers since the introduction of the subsidy back in 2011.

“This cost has been met directly by workers.  The private sector pension levy was introduced in the same budget as the reduced VAT rate and the finances generated by the levy imposed on private sector workers were used to offset the cost of the tourism and hospitality subsidy. It should also be remembered that the reduced VAT rate is just one of many state subsidies for the tourism and hospitality sector.”

She added: “Retention of the VAT break to the tourism and hospitality sector comes at a time when it is experiencing steady growth and increased revenues. A recently published hotel industry survey for 2015 showed that profit before tax per bedroom is running at €9,201 across the country. Hoteliers are optimistic for continued increases in occupancy and room rates.

“Despite steady growth and increased revenues, employers in the hospitality sector are continuing to veto the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) process established by the State in January 2014 for agreeing statutory minimum wages and conditions for workers in the sector.  

“As a result of the veto by employers, we now have the intolerable situation whereby the JLC for the hotel sector has been effectively decommissioned before it even got off the ground. The continuing hostility and lack of engagement from employers in this sector with a mechanism that could provide a living wage and acceptable conditions of employment to their employees is totally incompatible with the maintenance of State subsidies.”

“As far as SIPTU is concerned a state subsidy implies a social contract.  In other words, an industry which receives benefits from the State on the one hand, cannot ignore State policy on the other hand.  The hospitality industry must now live up to its responsibilities and come to the JLC bargaining table. The industry can no longer be allowed to take all the benefit of the reduced VAT rate while treating the Exchequer and its workforce with contempt.”

 

SIPTU Conference supports once-off regularisation of undocumented migrants

The SIPTU National Delegate Biennial Conference has today (Thursday, 8th October) voted to support a once-off, time-bound regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants in Ireland.

Delegates voted unanimously in favour of a motion proposed by the SIPTU Equality Committee calling on the union to participate in a broad based “campaign aimed at convincing Government to introduce a once-off, time-bound regularisation scheme, with transparent and fair criteria.”

SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Ethel Buckley, said: “Undocumented workers are overwhelming represented in low and minimum wage jobs in the services sector such as hospitality, security and cleaning. A regularisation scheme with fair and transparent criteria will encourage workers out of the shadows and enable them to enjoy the protections which should be available to all workers in Ireland”.

She added: “The majority of undocumented workers are resident in Ireland for over five years. It is time that their position is regularised both to protect the human rights of these workers and to prevent the further erosion of conditions for all workers employed in precarious sectors.”

Among those who observed the debate at the SIPTU Conference was Jayson Montenegro, a founder member of the Justice for the Undocumented campaign.

He said: “This is a great outcome for our campaign which was set up with the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland. Today, we feel the solidarity and power of the tens of thousands of SIPTU members across Ireland who will help us bring about change. Documenting undocumented workers will help prevent all worker exploitation. It means we can stand up for our rights in the workplace without fear.”

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland spokesperson, Helen Lowry, said: “That the motion was unanimously passed by delegates is a huge thumbs up from the country’s largest trade union for our campaign. The pressure is now on publicly and politically for a regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants”.

The SIPTU Biennial National Delegate Conference took place in City Hall, Cork, from Monday (5th October) until lunchtime today (Thursday, 8th October).

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SIPTU conference votes to review use of union’s political fund

 

The SIPTU National Delegate Biennial Conference has voted this afternoon (Wednesday, 7th October) for a review to be undertaken of the use of the union’s political fund with the aim of producing a report on possible changes to be discussed at a Special Conference in early 2017.

 

Following a debate on a motion proposing the review and one calling on disaffiliation from the Labour Party, delegates overwhelming voted to not change the operation of the union’s political fund prior to an extensive consultation process with members.

 

SIPTU NEC member and Community Sector activist, David Connolly, said the SIPTU NEC had “set up a political strategy subcommittee to undertake a fundamental reassessment of the future political engagement and priorities of the union.”

 

Connolly added that “while there is a long term historical connection between the union and the Labour Party” the emergence in recent years of a number of other Left-wing parties meant that the union should now work towards building political unity between these groups “based on agreed values and objectives”.

 

Proposing the motion calling for the immediate disaffiliation of the union from the Labour Party, SIPTU Education Sector delegate, Kieran Allen, said he was calling for the union to implement a “level playing field” for all Left-wing parties.

 

He said that it was unacceptable the political fund could only be used to support Labour Party candidates.

 

SIPTU Health Division delegate, Brian Condra, said that union members must be made aware that the political fund was not merely used for funding election candidates but utilised for a wide range of activities including campaigns for workers’ rights and against austerity.

 

He said that the union should not rush into any decision on the future use of the political fund. “This is a big decision and not one that can be taken lightly. A Special Conference in 2017 gives us time and space to engage with our membership and to move forward with the confidence that we are not being led into a situation which will not benefit trade unionism.”

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SIPTU calls on all workers to support Dunnes Stores strikers

SIPTU has called upon all workers to support their colleagues in Mandate trade union who will be on strike at Dunnes Stores across the country on Thursday, 2nd April, by not shopping at the retailer.

SIPTU Services Division Organiser, John King, said: “This is a dispute about decent jobs and dignity in the workplace for low paid workers in precarious sectors of the economy. Such workers are more likely to suffer from in-work poverty and severe exploitation due to the implementation of low hour or zero hour contracts. The Dunnes Stores workers deserve support for the brave stand they are taking in fighting against these injustices and should be supported in their struggle by all working people.

“SIPTU members, in particular, are being asked to show solidarity with the strikers by not shopping at Dunnes Stores on Thursday.”

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Teresa Hannick, said: “SIPTU represents over 350 members in Dunnes Stores in Cavan, Cork, Donegal and Dublin. While our members have not balloted for industrial action at this time, they are in dispute with Dunnes Stores regarding their contracts of employment and the provision of a decent living wage.

“The management of Dunnes Stores has so far refused to meet with SIPTU representatives or attend the Labour Relations Commission or any other third party state agencies to discuss the matters in dispute. Similar intransigence was shown by the management of Dunnes Stores to our colleagues in Mandate and it eventually forced them to take strike action.

“SIPTU has been invited to attend a Labour Court hearing into the dispute with Dunnes Stores on Thursday, 9th April.”

SIPTU holds positive meeting with local politicians on Bausch and Lomb restructuring plan. 
SIPTU has welcomed the positive outcome to a meeting held this afternoon (Monday, 2nd June) with local Waterford politicians concerning the threat to pay and jobs faced by workers in the Bausch and Lomb manufacturing plant in Waterford.SIPTU Sector Organiser, Alan O’Leary, said: “SIPTU representatives had a very positive meeting today with local elected representatives. All those attending the meeting agreed on the gravity of the situation facing the workers and their families. The union confirmed to the group which included TDs and Senators that everything must be done to maintain as many jobs as possible through a balanced negotiated agreement with the company. It was agreed that the 20% pay cut proposed by the company is not acceptable given the impact on workers and their families. These issues will be confronted in talks between the management of Valeant and union representatives, scheduled to commence tomorrow (Tuesday, 3rd June).”Alan O’Leary added: “It was agreed that the Oireachtas members would also engage with senior management at Valeant to convey the difficulty there is with the proposed limited timeframe of the talks between the union and company. These talks are currently scheduled to conclude on 17th June. It was also agreed that the local politicians will outline to central Government the need to give financial support and assistance to the effected workers and their families.“The local politicians will maintain close contact with the union over the coming weeks and a further meeting will be scheduled next week.”

Date Released: 03 June 2014

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IMPORTANT LABOUR COURT RECOMMENDATION ON AGENCY WORKERS ISSUED
A very important LCR on agency workers was issued by the Labour Court.  The detail is set out below.  Great work by our MISC colleagues and Manufacturing Division staff.

AWC/13/9        DETERMINATION NO. AWD141
(128020/29/43/45/50//56/57/63//68-TAW-12/JW)

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2012
SECTION 25(2), PROTECTION OF EMPLOYEES (TEMPORARY AGENCY WORK) ACT, 2012

 

PARTIES :                

O ‘REILLY RECRUITMENT LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS’ CONFEDERATION)

– AND –

MAGDALENA ZAREMBA,KINGA WOJTOWICZ-KANIA,MALGORZATA SASIN,DOROTA DABROWSKA,JULITA DABROWSKI,MARIUSZ KALINOWSKI,EWA STANISZEWSKA,BEATA PAMPUCH,ARKADIUSZ PAMPUCH
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)

DIVISION :

Chairman                :                Mr Hayes
Employer Member :                Ms Cryan
Worker Member    :                Mr Shanahan

SUBJECT:

1.        Appeal of Rights Commissioners Recommendations R-128020/128029/128043/128045/128050/128056/128057/128063/128068-taw-12/JW.

       
BACKGROUND:

2.         The Worker appealed the Rights Commissioner’s Decision dated 11th April 2013 to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 25(2) of the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 on the 1st May 2013. The Court heard the appeal on the 27th September 2013. The following is the Determination of the Court:

DETERMINATION :

Eights complainants employed by O’Reilly Recruitment Ltd and are assigned to work in AQF Ltd doing the same or similar work as directly employed workers. Directly employed workers are paid €10.08 per hour.  The Complainants are paid €8.65 per hour.

On 25 June 2012 the Complainants wrote to their employer claiming that their rate of pay infringed the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Workers) Act 2012. They claimed the same rate of pay as directly employed workers i.e. €10.08 per hour.

On 5 July the Respondent replied rejecting the claim and stating that they were paid in accordance with the terms of the Act.  It stated that it was advised by AQF Ltd that it would have paid new recruits employed on the 5th December 2011, the effective date of the Act, €8.65 per hour and not what it claimed was an historic rate of €10.08 per hour.  

The Complainants referred a complaint to the Rights Commissioner on 13 November 2012.  A hearing took place on the 27 February 2013. A decision issued on 11th April 2013. The Rights Commissioner decided that the Complaint was not well founded.

The Complainants, by way of notice dated 20th May 2013 appealed against that decision to this Court.  The case came on for hearing on 27 September 2013.

Position of the Parties

Complainant’s Position
The Complainants submit that they are “Agency Workers” within the meaning of the Act.  They argue that their basic “working and employment conditions” are less favourable than those that apply to directly employed workers. They state that they are paid €8.65 per hour while the rate of pay of directly employed workers is €10.08 per hour. They submit that this infringes section 6(1) of the Act.  

Respondent’s Position
The Respondent acknowledges that the Complainants perform the same work as directly employed workers. It submits that it was informed by the Hirer that directly employed workers have long service.  It submits that it was informed by the Hirer that trading conditions had changed in recent years with the result that it would not at present or on 5 December 2011 when the Act came into effect, employ workers on those historical rates.  It states that it did not in fact employ any direct workers around that time but had it done so it would engaged them at the rate of €8.65 per hour.

In support of its position the Respondent submitted a letter sent to it by the hirer dated 6 February 2013.  It states (verbatim):

AQF ltd was formed as the result of a merger of two existing foam businesses on 1st June 2005.  All existing employees rights transferred with them to the new business, the shortest serving employee having joined in November 1999.  The majority of our direct employees have 20 years plus service with the company.

Since 1999 AQF have employed only one permanent direct employee as a general Operative which was (redacted) on 28th April 2008, the rate of pay as can be seen on her offer letter is €8.65 per hour.  AQF also employees direct temporary staff on an ongoing basis, the rate of pay for direct temporary staff is €8.65 per hour, please see pay slips attached.

If AQF Ltd were seeking permanent General Operatives at present the rate of pay for this position would be €8.65 per hour.
The agency staff provided by O Reilly Recruitment are afforded the exact same working conditions as the direct permanent employees of AQF Ltd in relation to basic pay, working time, rest periods, rest breaks, overtime rates, annual leave and public holidays.
The agency workers also receive the identical benefits in terms of Health and Safety training, Canteen and general facilities, PPE and Christmas bonus.

I do not understand where this claim is coming from as the comparable rate of pay is €8.65 per hour.

It submits that it relied on this letter as evidence of the rate of pay the Hirer would apply to direct workers employed on 5 December 2011.

On that basis the Respondent submits that the complaints are not well founded and should fail.  It asks the Court to uphold the decision of the Rights Commissioner.

The Law

This Act was signed into law on 16th May 2012. It transposes into Irish law Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Union on Temporary Agency Work. Consequently the Court is obliged to interpret and apply the Act, as far as possible, in light of the wording and purpose of the Directive so as to achieve the result envisaged by the Directive. The Act commenced on 16th May 2012. Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are deemed to have commenced on 5th December 2011, the date on which Members States were required to implement the Directive.

The purpose of the Directive is set out at Article 2 thereof as follows:

The purpose of this Directive is to ensure the protection of temporary agency workers and to improve the quality of temporary agency work by ensuring that the principle of equal treatment, as set out in Article 5, is applied to temporary agency workers, and by recognising temporary work agencies as employers, while taking into account the need to establish a suitable framework for the use of temporary agency work with a view to contributing effectively to the creation of jobs and to the development of flexible forms of working.

The principle of equal treatment, referred to in this Article, is elaborated by Article 5 as follows:

The principle of equal treatment
1.        The basic working and employment conditions of temporary agency workers shall be, for the duration of their assignment at a user undertaking, at least those that would apply if they had been recruited directly by that undertaking to occupy the same job.

Section 6 of the Act faithfully transposed Article 5 of the Directive in providing as follows:

6.— (1) Subject to any collective agreement for the time being standing approved under section 8, an agency worker shall, for the duration of his or her assignment with a hirer, be entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as the basic working and employment conditions to which he or she would be entitled if he or she were employed by the hirer under a contract of employment to do work that is the same as, or similar to, the work that he or she is required to do during that assignment.

Subsection (3) of s.6 of the Act provides:

(3) Where the assignment of an agency worker commenced before 5 December 2011 and ended or ends on or after that date, that assignment shall, for the purpose of determining the agency worker’s basic working and employment conditions in accordance with subsection (1), be deemed to have commenced on that date.

The meaning to be ascribed to the term ‘basic working and employment conditions’ is set out at s.2 of the Act as follows:

“basic working and employment conditions” means terms and conditions of employment required to be included in a contract of employment by virtue of any enactment or collective agreement, or any arrangement that applies generally in respect of employees, or any class of employees, of a hirer, and that relate to—
(a) pay,
(b) working time,
(c) rest periods,
(d) rest breaks during the working day,
(e) night work,
(f) overtime,
(g) annual leave, or
(h) public holidays;

Pay is defined by the same section as:-
(a) basic pay, and
(b) any pay in excess of basic pay in respect of—
(i) shift work,
(ii) piece work,
(iii) overtime,
(iv) unsocial hours worked, or
(v) hours worked on a Sunday,

Section 15(1) states:

It shall be the duty of the hirer of an agency worker to provide the employment agency that employs that agency worker with all such information in the possession of the hirer as the employment agency reasonably requires to enable the employment agency to comply with its obligations under this Act in relation to the agency worker.

Conclusion of the Court

It is common case that the Complainants were assigned to the hirer on or before 5 December 2011.  Accordingly they are deemed to have commenced their assignment on that day.

It is also common case that the Complainants and directly employed workers are engaged to do the same work for the hirer.  Direct workers are paid a higher rate of pay than those agency workers. On the face of it this amounts to an infringement of Section 6(1) of the Act.

The Respondent argues that it is advised by the hirer that those direct employees enjoy historic rates of pay that for trading and business reasons could no longer apply.  It argues that the hirer states that had it employed workers directly into those positions on 5 December 2011 it would have paid them €8.65 per hour. It argues that €8.65 per hour is the rate to which a worker” would be entitled if he or she were employed by the hirer under a contract of employment to do work that is the same as, or similar to, the work that he or she is required to do during that assignment.” On that basis it argues that it has not infringed section 6(1) of the Act.

By paying €8.65 per hour the Agency submits that it is effectively complying with the Act.

The evidence before the Court is that all but one of the workers directly employed by the hirer was paid a rate of €10.08 per hour. The Complainants are paid €8.65 per hour.

The single exception came to the Hirer under a transfer of undertakings arrangement and was paid the rate of €8.65 per hour.  This rate was subsequently increased by the first phase of the relevant National Agreement then in force. No further increases have been applied to this worker. In light of the manner in which this worker came to the hirer the Court distinguishes this worker from the rates that apply generally within the hirer.

The Respondent argues that the higher rate is a legacy rate of pay that would not be applied to anyone directly employed on 5 December 2011.  It argues that the Court in deciding this matter must have regard to Section 6(1) of the Act that provides that the relevant rate of pay for comparison purposes is the rate to which a directly employed worker “would be entitled if he or she were employed by the hirer under a contract of employment to do work that is the same as, or similar to, the work that he or she is required to do during that assignment.”  It submits that the Hirer has pursuant to Section 15 of the Act, stated that that rate is €8.65 per hour. It argues that the Court should decide accordingly.

The Court does not accept that contention.  Section 6(1) must be read together with Section 2 of the Act and the Directive which state:
 
“basic working and employment conditions” means terms and conditions of employment required to be included in a contract of employment by virtue of any enactment or collective agreement, or any arrangement that applies generally in respect of employees, or any class of employees, of a hirer,(emphasis added)

Article 2 of the Directive states:

The purpose of this Directive is to ensure the protection of temporary agency workers and to improve the quality of temporary agency work by ensuring that the principle of equal treatment, as set out in Article 5, is applied to temporary agency workers, and by recognising temporary work agencies as employers, while taking into account the need to establish a suitable framework for the use of temporary agency work with a view to contributing effectively to the creation of jobs and to the development of flexible forms of working.

The principle of equal treatment
Article 2(1) of the Directive states:

The basic working and employment conditions of temporary agency workers shall be, for the duration of their assignment at a user undertaking, at least those that would apply if they had been recruited directly by that undertaking to occupy the same job.

When read together the Court finds that the test set out in Section 2 of the Act is an objective one.  It must determine if there is a legislative provision, collective agreement or general arrangement in place that sets the general working and employment conditions, including the basic rate of pay, of directly employed workers.  Where such an “arrangement” that “applies generally” to directly employed workers is in place the Court must, in order to apply the principle of equal treatment, set out in the Directive and transposed into Irish law by the Act, apply that rate to Agency workers assigned to the hirer.

The Court cannot substitute a hypothetical rate posited by the Hirer for the actual rate of pay that in fact generally applies to directly employed workers doing the same work as assigned agency workers.  If the Court were to do so it would defeat the purpose of the Directive and of the Act and thereby could not be lawful.

The Court therefore determines that the complaint is well founded.

Redress

The Schedule of the Act states:

A decision of a rights commissioner under subparagraph (2) shall do one or more of the following, namely—

(a) declare that the complaint was or, as the case may be, was not well founded,
(b) require the employer to take a specified course of action (including reinstatement or reengagement of the employee in circumstances where the employee was dismissed by the employer), or
(c) require the employer to pay to the employee compensation of such amount (if any) as is just and equitable having regard to all the circumstances but not exceeding 2 years remuneration in respect of the employee’s employment,

and the references in the foregoing clauses to an employer shall be construed, in a case where ownership of the business of the employer changes after the contravention to which the complaint relates occurred, as references to the person who, by virtue of the change, becomes entitled to such ownership.

Determination

In accordance with Clauses (a) and (b) of subparagraph (3) above, the Court determines that the complaints are well founded and it directs the Respondent herein to adjust their rates of pay to €10.08 per hour, with effect from 5thDecember 2011.

The Decision of the Rights Commissioner is set aside and substituted with the terms of this Determination.

        Signed on behalf of the Labour Court

        Brendan Hayes
3rd February, 2014        ______________________
JMcC        Deputy Chairman

SIPTU & MANDATE welcome reinstatement of Joint Labour Committees.

SIPTU and MANDATE have welcomed the news that the establishment orders for the Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) have been signed. The JLCs, once they are formed by trade union and employer representatives under the auspices of Kieran Mulvey, the Chief Executive Officer of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), will set basic levels of pay, above the minimum wage, for tens of thousands of low paid workers.

SIPTU Vice-President, Patricia King, said: “This is a good day for low paid workers. It follows the intensive lobbying, and engagement with the Government, by the trade union movement. We now expect that the CEO of the LRC will be requested to invite the parties to make their nominations to the JLCs.

“We would expect the employers in the six relevant sectors including hospitality and catering, retail, contract cleaning, security and agriculture to take a full and productive part in the process.”

MANDATE General Secretary, John Douglas said: “The JLC system operates mostly in low-paid sectors and where workers have little ability to protect or improve their conditions of employment.

“The re-establishment of the JLC’s will ensure that thousands of low-paid vulnerable workers will be protected and will ensure that the concept of decent work is put back on the agenda. MANDATE is calling on all of the relevant employers to engage positively with the process as a matter of urgency,” he said.

For further information contact:

SIPTU Vice-President, Patricia King:  

MANDATE General Secretary, John Douglas: 

SIPTU to meet Pfizer management on Friday to discuss job losses
SIPTU representatives will meet with the management of Pfizer Ireland on Friday, 6th December, at 2.00 p.m. to discuss its announcement of 150 job losses at the company’s plant in Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

SIPTU Organiser, Frank Jones said: “The announcement today (Wednesday, 4th December) that the company intends to make 150 workers redundant during 2014 is deeply distressing to the workers’ families and has had a devastating effect on the Newbridge area. Over 70 SIPTU members are among those workers facing the loss of their jobs.

“The timing and phasing of these job losses is particularly of concern with management stating that the redundancies will be fully implemented between the second quarter of 2014 and the end of the year.”

He added: “A previous round of redundancies, which was spread out over three years rather than a few months, has just been completed at the plant. We believe that the pool of workers who will accept a voluntary redundancy package has been exhausted.

“The purpose of the meeting on Friday is to explore the potential to reduce the number of proposed job losses and to try and ensure that no compulsory redundancies are implemented.”

For further information contact:

SIPTU Organiser, Frank Jones: 087 244 4217

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Labour Court hearing scheduled for Liebherr dispute

SIPTU members at Liebherr Container Cranes, Killarney, have accepted an invitation to the attend a hearing of the Labour Court on Wednesday, 4th December, to discuss a dispute at the company concerning its failure to honour a pay claim that was due to workers since 2009.

SIPTU Organiser, Marie Kearney, said: “Following the acceptance by our members of the invitation from the Deputy Chairman of the Labour Court, Caroline Jenkinson, to attend a hearing into the dispute all industrial action at Liebherr has been suspended.”

Notice of industrial action was served by SIPTU on Liebherr earlier this month. Following this the workers implemented a ban on overtime and undertook a one-day work stoppage on Wednesday, 27th November.

For further information contact:

SIPTU Organiser, Marie Kearney: 087 222 9321

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SIPTU representatives will begin negotiations with the provisional liquidator of Andersen Ireland Ltd, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, on Thursday, 26th September.
The negotiations follow a meeting between all parties concerned with the liquidation of the custom jewellery manufacturer in Dublin on Friday (20t…h September).
At this meeting, convened by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, the parties decided to place job retention as their number one priority.
SIPTU Organiser, Denis Gormalley, said: “job retention is the top priority and this can only be achieved through finding a mechanism to maintain the plant as a going concern.
“The state agencies have assured us that every effort will be made to exhaust all possible avenues in this regard. We remain hopeful that some level of employment can be maintained in the short to medium term, which would make the plant a more attractive prospect to potential new owners.”
He added: “Today, the provisional liquidator, Kieran Wallace, informed the membership of his intention to enter into negotiations with SIPTU under the provisions of collective redundancy.
“While we welcome this move by the provisional liquidator it adds to the pressure, anxiety and uncertainty of our members who had believed they would know their fate today. They must now return home to their families in the hope that Thursday’s meeting will give them some form of certainty.
A liquidator was appointed to Andersen Ireland Ltd on Wednesday (18th September), a move that has placed over 160 jobs in jeopardy.
For further information contact:
SIPTU Organiser, Denis Gormalley:

 

*********************************************************************************************************************************************************SIPTU condemns appointment of liquidator to Andersen Ireland Ltd

SIPTU has condemned the decision of the owners of Andersen Ireland Ltd to seek a court appointed liquidator. The move is expected to result in a total wind-up of the custom jewelry manufacturer based in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, with the loss of over 160 jobs.

SIPTU Organiser, Denis Gormalley, said: “The liquidator wa…s appointed this afternoon. This act by the company could well eliminate the possibility of finding new owners for the business and the possibility of maintaining jobs. SIPTU condemns this move as unacceptable as prospective new owners were engaged in discussions on the possibility of keeping the business operating as a going concern.”

He added: “This company’s action also prevents creditors from having their say at a creditors meeting scheduled to take place next Monday (23rd September). The unanswered question is why the company has acted in this manner.

“The last remaining hope for the workers rests with the Ulster Bank, the company’s main business creditor. Only Ulster Bank can act to prevent the liquidation of the company’s assets and the expected loss of over 160 jobs. Ulster Bank must act to provide the workers and their families with some hope in this situation.”

For further information contact:

SIPTU Organiser, Denis Gormalley:

 

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SIPTU calls for a receiver to be appointed to Andersen Ltd.     SIPTU has called on the Ulster Bank to appoint a receiver to Andersen Ireland Ltd in order to assess what prospects exist of maintaining jobs at the custom jewellery manufacturing plant in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick. SIPTU Organiser, Denis Gormalley, said: “Today, SIPTU learned that Andersen Ireland Ltd is to move to put the comp…any into court appointed liquidation. This move would likely be the final death knell for the plant. Separately some small but significant progress had been made with State agencies in attempting to find a new owner. If the liquidation goes ahead this will have proven to be futile. “Instead of proceeding with the plant’s liquidation SIPTU is calling on Ulster Bank, the company’s main business creditor, to appoint a receiver to the company. This would be a good news story for the banking sector as their intervention could result in the maintenance of the plant and its associated jobs.” He added: “SIPTU representatives met with the parent company on Monday (15th September) to discuss prospects to save jobs and to negotiate the best possible package for those workers facing redundancy. However, the parent company has failed to make any commitments to the future or staff at the plant. The workers feel that this faceless overseas management has shown no decency or respect to them and their families. Theyhave given no consideration to the consequences of the decision to close the plant without pursuing all possible avenues of maintaining its operation.”                       For further information contact: SIPTU Organiser, Denis Gormalley:

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

SIPTU members commenced a 48-hour work stoppage at 6.30 a.m. on Thursday, 12th September, at Milne Foods in Birr, County Offaly, due to the company’s failure to implement a Labour Court recommendation in relation to workers’ conditions of employment.

SIPTU Organiser, Michael Browne, said: “This stoppage is the latest in a series of strike actions which the Milne Food workers have undertaken since 11th July. The industrial action began when it became clear that the company had no intention of implementing the Labour Court recommendation which it received back in March.

“This company is in receipt of State funds from contracts to supply publicly funded bodies including a number of Health Service Executive hospitals. However, management is refusing to honour a Labour Court recommendation or even meet with workers’ representatives.”

He added: “The workers have received great support from the local community and their fellow trade unionists and will continue their campaign until management deals with them in a reasonable manner.”

A solidarity fund has been launched by the SIPTU Manufacturing Division to provide support for the striking workers.

SIPTU Organiser, Rhonda Donaghy said: “While the dispute has been maintained as a two days a week work stoppage the employer has exacerbated the financial problems for the strikers by also reducing their rostered hours.

“In order to assist in supporting the workers and their families during this challenging period a support fund has been established.”

Those wishing to contribute to the Milne Strikers Support Fund should contact the SIPTU Manufacturing Division, Liberty Hall, Dublin 1.

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Milne Foods workers to hold protest march in Birr, County Offaly, on 24th August.  Milne Foods workers and their supporters will march in Birr, County Offaly on Saturday, 24th August, to protest at the refusal of the company to implement a Labour Court recommendation or meet with its employees’ representatives.The protest will begin with a rally in Emmet Square, Birr, at 4.00 p.m. followed by a march to the Milne Foods plant in the Syngefield Industrial Estate.The protest march follows a series of strike actions at the plant due to the company’s failure to adhere to a Labour Court recommendation that management meet with the workers’ representatives and implement improvements to their pay and conditions.SIPTU Organiser, Michael Browne, said: “It has become clear that the company has no intention of implementing the Labour Court recommendation which it received back in March. The workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action and now organise this protest after they exhausted all other avenues open to them to initiate constructive dialogue with management.“This company is in receipt of State funds from contracts to supply publicly funded bodies including a number of Health Service Executive hospitals. However, management is refusing to honour a Labour Court recommendation or even meet with workers’ representatives.”He added: “The workers have received great support from the local community and their fellow trade unionists and will continue their campaign until management deal with them in a reasonable manner.”
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SIPTU members conducting a 48-hour strike action at Milne Foods in Birr, County Offaly, have called on politicians to demand that the company, which has a number of contracts to supply State bodies, implement a Labour Court recommendation in relation to workers’ conditions of employment.The current strike action began at 6.30 a.m. on Thursday, 1st August, with a picket placed on the company’s plant on the Syngefield Industrial Estate in Birr. It follows a similar 24-hour stoppage in early July.SIPTU Organiser, Michael Browne, said: “The workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action after they exhausted all other avenues open to them to initiate constructive dialogue with the management at Milne Foods. This company is in receipt of State funds from contracts to supply publicly funded bodies including a number of Health Service Executive hospitals. However, management is refusing to honour a Labour Court recommendation or even meet with workers’ representatives.”He added: “It has become clear that the company has no intention of implementing the Labour Court recommendation that the workers’ pay claims should be met. It is now up to politicians to state their position on a company which maintains a number of public contracts but refuses to recognise the State’s own industrial relations mechanisms. The workers will continue their campaign of industrial action until management deal with them in a reasonable manner.”The workers intend to conduct a further 48-hour work stoppage, commencing at 6.30 a.m. on Tuesday, 6th August, unless a resolution to the dispute is agreed.For further information contact:SIPTU Organiser, Michael Browne:
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SIPTU calls on Energizer and IBEC to attend LRC to discuss job losses
SIPTU has called on the management of Energizer Ireland Ltd and the employers’ organisation, IBEC, to respect workers’ rights by attending an early meeting of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) to discuss redundancies at the company.
SIPTU Organiser, Michelle Quinn, said: “Since announcing in late May that the com…pany would be making all its distribution staff at its offices in Portobello in Dublin redundant, Energizer management has repeatedly refused to confirm an early date to meet worker representatives at the LRC.
“The union wishes to discuss the terms of a redundancy package for the 14 workers who are losing their jobs, some with nearly 40 years of service. The redundancy package which has been offered by the company, of statutory redundancy plus three weeks per year of service capped at 18 months, is derisory when the long service of many of the workers is taken into account.”
She added: “The LRC has offered numerous dates between 12th July and the end of the August to hold a conciliation conference between representatives of the company and workers. Management and IBEC have stated that that they are unable to attend on any date prior to the 29th August, due to annual leave, by which time the vast majority of the workers will already have lost their jobs.
“SIPTU is now calling on management and their advisors in IBEC to treat the workers with the respect they deserve and attend the LRC in a timely fashion so that a fair  redundancy package can be negotiated.”
For further information contact:
SIPTU Organiser, Michelle Quinn:
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1th July

Strike action at Milne Foods in County Offaly

SIPTU members have commenced 24-hour strike action at Milne Foods in Birr, County Offaly, due to the company’s failure to implement a Labour Court recommendation in relation to workers’ conditions of employment.

The strike action began at 6.30 a.m. this morning (Thursday, 11th July)  with a picket placed on the company’s plant on the Syngefield Industrial Estate in Birr.

The workers’ action follows the company’s failure  to adhere to a Labour Court recommendation that management meet with the workers’ representatives to discuss improvements to pay and conditions.

SIPTU Organiser, Michael Browne, said: “The workers have been left with no  option but to take industrial action after they exhausted all other  avenues open to them to initiate constructive dialogue with the  management at Milne Foods.”

He added: “It has become clear that the company has no intention of implementing the Labour Court  recommendation that the workers’ pay claims should be met. In these  circumstances the workers had no option but to undertake strike action  and will continue their campaign until management deal with them in a  reasonable manner.”

For further information contact:

SIPTU Organiser, Michael Browne:

 

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SIPTU Agrees Transformational innovation agreement in Pfizer Ringaskiddy Cork

Pfizer announced major job cuts in June 2012, due to a number of factors the company intended to make significant job cuts at its plant in Ringaskiddy Cork. The three main drivers for restructuring were a realignment within the broader Active Primary Ingredients (API) manufacturing base where there is a general move away from blockbuster bulk drugs moving towards smaller volume and associated reduced production steps. The challenges of the patent expiry cliff for some major drugs such as Lipitor and Sildenafil (Viagra) and a shifting of on- patent drugs to low cost economies such as Singapore which incur zero corporation tax for on- patent products. Pfizer announced a total of 177 redundancies with 129 Ringaskiddy and 48 in Little Island. More recently the company announced that it was exiting the Little Island business through a potential sale or closure in late 2014.

Over the past number of years Pfizer has reduced its footprint in Ireland with the closure of Inchera and Loughbeg (tablet plant) and sales of Loughbeg API, its nutritional business in Askeaton Co Limerick and the Biopharmaceutical plant in Shanbally. However, this was the first occasion that compulsory redundancies were proposed at the Ringaskiddy site. The Ringaskiddy site is iconic within the Pfizer network as it was the original location of investment by Pfizer in Ireland in 1969.

SIPTU engaged with Pfizer in June 2012 and maintained that each job cut would be “forensically” scrutinised with a view to minimising the depth of the proposed compulsory redundancies. Following a general meeting of members the unions mandate was to save as many jobs as possible, this was overwhelmingly endorsed by the members and negotiations commenced in July 2012. However, the Union’s negotiating approach was fundamentally different to all other previous engagements, rather than negotiate on numbers from an adversarial industrial relations approach the union committee adopted the priority of retaining jobs though role enhancements, operational changes and co-operation with change. This is in line with the concept developed by SIPTU’s Manufacturing Division’s Innovation in manufacturing policy through the IDEAS Institute and the Dublin Declaration (see attached)

The SIPTU manufacturing division policy on innovation essentially focuses on encouraging role enhancement through operational innovation and co-operation with change at a fundamental level. This requires a complete rethink from the traditional adversarial approach of trading and negotiating on the number of job cuts. We have found that employers using the scalpel approach to cut jobs looks attractive as an accounting exercise reported on a quarterly shareholders report however we contend that this accounting exercise on occasions merely addresses short term financial goals. While it’s a given that production volumes dictate key resources beyond this we contend that there is absolutely no long term cost savings dividend in cutting jobs. After all the goal of all enterprises is to grow their business once productivity improves rehiring occurs with the exact same competitive factors. The long term human effect of losing a quality job is absolutely devastating for the worker, their dependents the local community and indeed it’s a hit for the Government through reduced tax revenue. Therefore, there is no social good to cutting jobs in a depressed economy. The economic crises forces us to rethink our industrial relations approach and the innovation in manufacturing model is the key to better long term solutions. Adopting the innovation in manufacturing approach provides an opportunity for employers to reach an accommodation and consensus agreement with unions on cost savings through operational innovation. The costs savings associated with operational innovation can be substantial and could cause a fundamental rethink by senior management in MNC’s HQ’s concerning the level of rationalisation required. Site competitiveness or put more succinctly the ability to produce goods at a more competitive price can be better achieved by retaining posts through role expansion/enhancements and operational innovation.   The benefit in this approach is not just short-term but long term competitive gains are achieved where employers can substantially reduce the cost of running their plant and strategically position themselves to become the prime location of choice for further investment within their networks.  This is a win- win approach whereby the employer yields long term competitive gains and the workers retain their quality jobs and a social good is realised. The Pfizer Ringaskiddy agreement which was brokered with the tremendous assistance of Kevin Foley and Damien Cannon of the Labour Relations Commission has been described as a “transformational agreement” whereby the original number of job cuts have been substantially reduced as a direct result of agreement on operational innovation and fundamental change.

Alan O’Leary sector organiser stated that this transformational agreement reduced the proposed job cuts by a substantial and real amount and we hope that the final figures will reduce even further as we continue to engage with Pfizer locally to explore other innovation options at further reducing the depth of proposed job cuts. One can argue that the positions that have been saved as a result of this ground breaking agreement impacts all of the roles in the entire plant. There remains mainly challenges in the industry with patent expiry etc, however we hope that this agreement reasserts the fact that in the Pharmaceutical sector Ireland can compete with the best in terms of highly skilled and committed workers and this agreement also enhances our ability to compete with lower cost economies for investment. We are hoping that as a direct result of this transformational agreement that senior management at Pfizer HQ will reconsider moving on-patent product to Singapore as the product can now be made in Ireland at a much more competitive price.

While as part of this agreement there are still jobs cuts these are unavoidable as they are directly aligned to volume decline. There are workers with over ten years services proposed to leave the Ringaskiddy site which is deeply regrettable however after 10 months of very difficult negotiations our members took a very difficult but mature and necessary decision to accept fundamental operational changes to secure as many of the remaining jobs as possible. This transformational agreement now positions the Ringaskiddy site as a prime location of choice within the wider Pfizer network and as a result of this agreement it can also now compete more competitively with lower cost economies. The real litmus test for this new innovation approach and transformational agreement in Pfizer Ringaskiddy will be the ability of management to attract new business into Ringaskiddy over the coming years. SIPTU will be obviously watching this very closely.

Concluding Alan O’Leary sector organiser stated that obviously in terms of jobs growth all sectors of the economy are important including the contribution of many small to medium indigenous firms which are the lifeblood of many communities however the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices industry is crucial to Ireland’s current economic recovery. The sector contributes over 55% of Ireland total exports (Pharmaceutical sector over 50 billion pa) nine out of the top ten global Multi- National Corporations (MNCs) operate manufacturing subsidiaries here, and the sector provides 60,000 high quality jobs. It is my view that if Ireland is to recover from the economic depression we cannot afford to lose these high quality jobs in manufacturing and through the innovation in manufacturing approach industry stakeholders can reach an acceptable compromise in achieving agreed cost savings while providing a long term social good by retaining quality jobs in the sector.  For every one manufacturing job saved it is estimated that three or possibly four additional indirect jobs in downstream and upstream service providers are also secured.

regards
Alan O’Leary,
Sector Organiser,
Pharmaceutical Chemical Medical Devices Sector,
Services Industrial Professional Technical Union, (SIPTU)

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SIPTU members have served notice of strike action at Milne Foods in Birr, Co. Offaly, due to the company’s failure to implement a Labour Court recommendation in relation to workers’ conditions of employment.

The strike action is scheduled to commence on Thursday, 11th July, and follows the company’s failure to adhere to a Labour Court… recommendation that management meet with the workers’ representatives to discuss improvements to pay and conditions.

SIPTU Organiser, Michael Browne, said: “The workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action after they exhausted all other avenues open to them to initiate constructive dialogue with the management at Milne Foods.

“Management has repeatedly refused to engage with the workers’ chosen representatives to discuss the improvement of their wages to industry norms and the restoration of an overtime premium and the introduction of a shift premium.”

He added: “Last year, when the company initially refused to engage with the workers’  representatives the issues were referred to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). The company refused to engage with the LRC and the issues were then referred to the Labour Court earlier this year. Management failed to attend the Labour Court hearing in February.

“It has become clear that company has no intention of implementing the  Labour Court recommendation that the workers pay claims should be met. In these circumstances the workers had no option but to serve strike notice which was endorsed by a ballot earlier this year.”

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Adoption of innovative work practices by indigenous firms crucial to Irish prosperity – Minister Sherlock

27th June 2013 – The adoption of innovative workplace practices by indigenous companies will have a crucial bearing on Ireland’s future prosperity, according to Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD.

 

The Minister made the comments today at the publication of the special report on “Work Organisation Innovation in Ireland” by Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, in Loughlinstown, Co Dublin.

 

Minister Sherlock commented, “If Ireland is to prosper and grow, workplace innovation needs to become commonplace, in indigenous firms as well as in overseas multinationals based here. Ireland has tended to look to overseas companies as drivers of change and innovation – this has to change. All the evidence shows that the adoption of innovative workplace-management techniques is linked strongly to significant improvements in productivity, turnover and employee retention.”

 

“This report highlights the main features that support innovative workplace practices. Promoting a strong value system and a culture of employee involvement and engagement can empower companies and organisations to experiment in workplace organisation and innovation. Dialogue and trust are also critical.”

 

“Arguably most important of all though is the development of competences, problem solving skills and innovative capacities and delivering on the responsiveness and flexibility needed to deliver increased sales in a highly competitive global market. Leadership and change management capabilities are critical in this regard. Other crucial elements are performance management and reward systems that encourage learning, risk-taking and team working.”

 

“There has been a mistaken perception in Ireland about our potential to develop a strong indigenous manufacturing sector. While the nature of manufacturing has changed, it offers significant potential for job and career opportunities across a range of skills levels and across all regions and will make a valuable contribution to Ireland’s recovery. That is why the Government has launched a new National Step Change Initiative as part of its Action Plan for Jobs with the message that Ireland is in manufacturing and will continue to be in manufacturing in the future.”

 

“I would like to commend the Irish social partner organisations, the Irish Business Employers’ Confederation and Irish Congress of Trade Unions for their support for work innovation at national level. SIPTU, our largest union, and the contribution of its Ideas Institute, also deserve particular commendation for championing work place innovation in manufacturing companies as a means of securing growth and jobs.”

 

“I can endorse the Report’s recommendations that the Irish Government should continue to promote High Performance Work Practices in this country and also that it should collaborate with our EU partners to promote the diffusion of High Performance Work Practices across the EU Member States.”

 

ENDS

 

Contact details:

 

Cian Connaughton, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation – +353 879186982 / cian.connaughton@djei.ie

 

Roisin McCann, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation – +353 872594144 / roisin.mccann@djei.ie

 

Note to Editor:

Eurofound is the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. It is a European Union body which contributes to the planning and design of better living and working conditions in Europe.

 

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Differences in working time remain large across Europe

 

26 June 2013

Eurofound launches its flagship annual working time update report:

Differences in working time remain large across Europe

(Dublin, Ireland): The average collectively agreed weekly working time in the European Union, including Croatia, stood at 38.1 hours in 2012, the same as for the EU27 in 2011, according to Eurofound’s latest annual working time update. The working week was on average 30 minutes shorter in the pre-2004 EU15 countries and over 1 hour and 30 minutes longer in the new Member States. The new report provides a snapshot of working time developments in the European Union and Norway in 2012 as agreed between the social partners by collective agreements. The combined total of agreed annual leave and public holidays in the EU varied from 40 days in Germany to 28 days in Estonia – a difference of over 2 working weeks. 

Collective bargaining plays an important role in determining the duration of working time in most of the 28 Member States of the European Union, though to a lesser or sometimes negligible extent in some of the Member States that joined the EU since 2004, the NMS13. This annual report provides a general overview of collectively agreed working time and any major developments taking place in 2012, and it includes data from Croatia, a Member State of the European Union from 1 July 2013, and Norway.

Belgium, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the UK were the only countries registering changes between 2011 and 2012. Slovakia continued in a decreasing trend whereas Spain halted an upward trend: both countries registered a fall of 0.1 hours in collectively agreed weekly hours. Sweden and the UK registered an increase of 0.1 hours per week, while Belgium recorded the highest increase, of 0.2 hours per week.

The report also looks at the average normal weekly working hours for full-time workers as set by collective bargaining in three sectors representing the manufacturing industry, services and the public sector – metalworking, banking and local government. The banking sector recorded the shortest average agreed normal weekly working hours from the three in the EU, with 37.6 hours, followed by the local government sector, with 37.8 hours, and metalworking, with 37.9 hours.

Actual weekly hours worked by full-time employees were longer than the average normal collectively agreed working week in 21 of the 29 countries analysed in the report. In the EU, full-time employees in Romania reported the longest actual weekly hours in their main jobs in 2012 – 41.2 hours, or 0.1 hours less than in 2011. They were followed by employees in Luxembourg (41.1 hours), the UK (40.8 hours), Germany (40.5 hours), Croatia and Cyprus (both 40.3 hours), and Bulgaria (40.2 hours). Employees in Finland worked the shortest hours (37.6). This was 3.6 hours less than their counterparts in Romania, or over 4.5 weeks of work in Romania in a full year.

Across the EU28, men worked on average 2 hours more than women. In the EU15, men worked 2.3 hours more per week than women; by contrast, in the NMS13, men worked around 1 hour and 30 minutes more than women. Again, these averages conceal more stark national situations: men’s actual weekly hours exceeded women’s by 3 hours or more in Ireland, the UK and Italy (3.6, 3.4 and 3 hours, respectively), by less than 1 hour in Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania, and by less than 20 minutes in Bulgaria.

An important factor in the overall length of working time is the paid annual leave to which workers are generally entitled, the report points out. All 28 countries studied have a statutory minimum period of paid annual leave, and the average figure for the EU28, including paid leave and public holidays, stood at 35.1 days – 36.6 days in the EU15 and 30.3 days in the NMS13. The report reveals big differences between countries, with employees in Germany enjoying up to 40 days of leave in total in 2012, followed by employees in France and Italy (39 days), while other notably low-leave countries included Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, with 29 days, and Estonia with 28 days.

Taking into account the agreed weekly hours, the days of leave and the public holidays, in 2012, the average collectively agreed annual normal working time was approximately 1,712 hours in the EU28, 1,678 hours in the EU15, and 1,824 hours in the NMS13.

The Developments in collectively agreed working time 2012 report is available online and to download here

For further information, contact Måns Mårtensson, Eurofound’s media manager, on email, telephone: +353-1-204 3124, and mobile: +353-876-593 507.NOTES TO THE EDITORThe European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite European Union Agency, whose role is to provide knowledge  in the area of social and work-related policies. Eurofound was established in 1975 by Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1365/75 of 26 May 1975.

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