Important outcome from Labour Court

The Labour Court has issued an important outcome for Freshway workers in a case taken by SIPTU under the new legislation.

On the question of evidencing union membership Joe O’Flynn, General Secretary of SIPTU, swore an affidavit in advance of the hearing to the effect that 63 of 170 workers were union members. The Court viewed this, 37%, as ‘not insignificant’ and passing the first barrier.

The Company argued that they collectively bargain with an internal staff consultation committee but the Court found that it wasn’t an excepted body and that the practice was not collective bargaining as defined by 2 existing acts and was merely consultation. This is an important outcome as there are legitimate fears that some internal non-union bodies may be used to nullify this legislation.

The Company submitted its financials in advance and this was given to the Union’s financial advisors who analysed these. Then both the Company and the Union agreed on a joint analysis of the financials and submitted it to the Court.

The Union presented detailed and comprehensive overview of comparator terms and conditions of employment in the relevant sector and the Court accepted that the ‘totality remuneration and conditions of employment’ were less for these workers compared to their equivalents in the sector.

And so, the Court recommended:

  • 70c increase in Sept ‘16, 70c increase June’17 and 72c January ’18;
  • This is a 22.6% increase over 18 months
  • 46%, 6.94% and 6.68%
    • No change to pension provision;
    • Introduction of 10 days sick leave on full pay less social welfare;
    • An extra days annual leave after 5 years’ service; and
    • Grievance and Disciplinary policies consistent with the Code of Practice allowing for individual union representation.

All in all this looks like a very good outcome for the workers affected and for the trade union movement. The bar set on numbers of members is important and the view of this particular internal staff body.

However, unfortunately, the employer (supported by the usual suspects) is likely to appeal this all the way and we would not hold out too much hope of a Courts view of these things given their class bias.

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