The State (Polymark (Ireland) Ltd) v Labour Court

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Blayney
Judgment Date01 January 1987
Neutral Citation1986 WJSC-HC 1584
Date01 January 1987
POLYMARK (IRELAND) LTD v. LABOUR COURT
BETWEEN/
STATE SIDE
THE STATE (AT THE PROSECUTION OF POLYMARK (IRELAND)LIMITED)
PROSECUTOR

AND

THE LABOUR COURT AND THE IRISH TRANSPORT AND GENERALWORKERS" UNION
RESPONDENTS

1986 WJSC-HC 1584

No. 277SS./1986

THE HIGH COURT

Synopsis:

EMPLOYMENT

Discrimination

Remuneration - Equality - Females - Like work - Reference to equal-pay officer - Change of circumstances - Assertion by women employees that they and specified grade of male employees were employed by employer on like work - Claim by women employees to same rate of remuneration as such male employees - Reference of that dispute to equal-pay officer - Change in system of work - Members of specified grade moved to other work - Work of specified grade performed by new male employee - Officer informed that claimant women were asserting that they and new male employee were performing like work - New assertion disputed by employer - Officer investigated work of new male employee and of claimant women - Officer recommended that they were performing like work of equal value and that claimant women should receive the same pay - Appeal to Labour Court by employer against recommendation - Appeal dismissed by Labour Court - Application by employer for order of certiorari quashing determination of Labour Court - Cause shown allowed - Held that there had been a dispute between the claimant women and their employer about the similarity of their work and the work of the new male employee within the meaning of s.7 of the Act of 1974, notwithstanding that the reference had been instituted in relation to the alleged similarity of the work of such women and the work of the specified grade of male employees, and that the equal-pay officer and the Labour Court had jurisdiction to investigate the new circumstances - On the assumption that the legal advice on the jurisdiction of the Labour Court received by that court in the absence of the employer constituted a breach of the rules of natural justice, it was held that the discretion of the High Court would be exercised to refuse to grant the order sought by the employer since that order would not benefit the employer, who would still be bound by the unimpaired recommendation of the equal-pay officer - Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, ss.2, 7, 8 - (1986/277 SS - Blayney J. - 7/11/86) - [1987] ILRM 357

|The State (Polymark Ltd.) v. The Labour Court|

JUDICIAL REVIEW

Certiorari

Remedy - Discretion of the court - Absence of benefit to applicant - Application dismissed - ~See~ Employment, discrimination - (1986/277 SS - Blayney J. - 7/11/86) - [1987] ILRM 357

|The State (Polymark Ltd.) v. The Labour Court|

LABOUR COURT

Legal advice

Procedure - Issue of jurisdiction - Suggestion that, if the court obtain its own legal advice, the court should disclose the nature of that advice to the parties to the dispute - Suggestion that, having heard the submissions of the parties on the issue, the court should determine the issue forthwith in the light of such advice and submissions - (1986/277 SS - Blayney J. - 7/11/86) - [1987] ILRM 357

|The State (Polymark Ltd.) v. The Labour Court|

Citations:

ABENGLEN PROPERTIES LTD, STATE V DUBLIN CORPORATION 1984 IR 381, 1982 ILRM 590

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION (PAY) ACT 1974 S7

WISLANG V MEDICAL DISCIPLINARY COUNCIL 1973 1 NZLR 29

1

Judgment of Mr. Justice Blayneydelivered on the 7th day of NOVEMBER 1986.

2

The Prosecutor seeks to have made absolute a Conditional Order of Certiorari made on the 15th April, 1986 quashing a determination by the first-named Respondent, the Labour Court, of an Appeal brought by the Prosecutor to that Court.

3

Two grounds are relied upon by the Prosecutor and I shall deal with them separately, but it is necessary first to set out some of the facts which gave rise to the proceedings before the Labour Court.

4

The Prosecutor is a company engaged in the manufacture of heat transfer labels for the clothing industry. On the 12th October 1981 the second-named Respondent, the Irish Transpor and General Workers"Union (to which I shall hereinafter refer as "the Union") referred to en equal pay officer a claim onbehalf of their female members employed in the checking and packing department of the Prosecutor, being a claim that the work of the packers and checkers was of equal value to that performed by nine named male assistant operatives.

5

This claim had been rejected by the Prosecutor and accordingly a dispute had arisen which was referred to the equal pay officer under Section 7 of the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act 1974for investigation and recommendation.

6

The equality pay officer visited the Prosecutor's premises for work inspection purposes on the 28th September 1982 when she discovered that there had been a reorganisation during that month in the printing area. Prior to that reorganistation, assistant operatives had filled in for printers during tea breaks and other short breaks, and also during longer absences such as sick leave. Since the reorganistation, this was no longer the case; one operative only was left to assist the printers but he did not fill in for them during their absence. This was done by charge-hands. The only operative assisting the printers at the time of the equal pay officer's visit was a Mr. Michael Farrell who was one of the nine named male operatives in the original claim made by the Union. Subsequently Mr.Farrell was moved to another department and his place was taken by Mr. Stephen Vaughan.

7

On the 15th March 1983 the equal pay officer wrote to the Union with a view to having certain matters clarified, and in a written memorandum given to the equal pay officer on the 11th January 1984 the Union included the following statement of their position:

"Packers/checkers are claiming that their work is equal in value to work performed by assistant operativeswho have available to them rates of pay which can reach a maximum equal to point 3 on the wage scale gradings.

Our claim has been related to assistant operatives who have available to them points on the grading scale up to and inclusive of grade 3.

Our members (packers/checkers) are of the opinion that their work is equal in value to that of assistant operatives like Stephen Vaughan.

Our members have witnessed many changes since our claim was made for packers/checkers. The duties of assistant operatives to printers is now performed by charge-hands.

We are therefore directing our claim to the assistant operative whose work is blocking screens,de-racking dried sheets from...

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