The Workers at a timber company brought a case against their Employer to the Labour Court and the Recommendation was very interesting.

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The Workers, who were represented by Services Industrial Professional Technical Union (SIPTU), wanted a 5% pay increase. However, the Company didn’t feel as though it should be paying such an increase.

The National Wage Agreement ceased in 2008 and the Workers in the Company have not received a pay increase since then.  The dispute between the Employees and the Company could not be resolved at local level and became the subject of a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). Agreement was not reached here and so, in November 2013, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court.

In March of this year a Labour Court Hearing took place. The Union argued that the Workers at the timber company have had to endure the austerity measures introduced in successive budgets over the last number of years. They have also experienced a significant increase in taxation which, combined with the difficult budgets, has resulted in a reduction in the take home pay for the Workers. SIPTU also argued that the increase sought was a modest one and that it would not adversely impact the Company.

The Company, on the other hand, argued that it was forced to take certain steps to remain viable and maintain levels of employment in the very competitive recent market conditions.

The timber firm also stated that it had always met its commitments under the National Wage Agreements; however, any increase in pay at this stage would inevitably challenge the security of employment within the Company.

Mr. Hayes (Chairman), Mr. Murphy (Employer Member) and Mr. Shanahan (Worker Member) considered the Employee and Company arguments and made a decision based on all of the submissions.

In the end, the Court met in the middle and Recommended that the Company increase the pay of the workers concerned by 2% for twelve months, effective 1st August 2014.

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