Retail Grocery Sector may see re-introduction of JLC

RGDATA and the CSNA have spoken out about Minister Bruton’s decision to revive the JLC system for the retail grocery sector

According to a feature in ShelfLife  on Feb 3 2014  Minister Richard Bruton plans to revive the JLC system for the retail grocery trade.

Retail groups have criticised Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton’s statement that “it is not his intention to alter the current scope of the two catering JLCs or the Retail Grocery JLC.”

RGDATA condemned Minister Bruton’s decision to effectively reintroduce JLCs for the retail grocery trade, stating it will negatively impact on the competitiveness of shops and employment costs.

Tara Buckley, director general, RGDATA, said: “Ultimately this decision will hinder the recovery of a sector of the domestic economy which has borne the brunt of the recession. The JLC for the retail grocery trade was fundamentally unfair as it imposed different laws on wage rates for different shops in the same streets or shopping centres. It was also underpinning inequality in the terms and conditions applying to people working in different formats of shops.”

Describing the new measure as legally flawed, RGDATA has said it will be assessing its legal options with regard to the minister’s decision.

The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) stated in its weekly newsletter that Minister Richard Bruton is to ask Kieran Mulvey of the Labour Court to appoint chairpersons to each of the JLCs that were in suspension following the successful challenge to aspects of their legality in the High Court.

According to the CSNA: “The department tried to make the announcement into a positive piece of news; the truth is far from the spin intended by the minister.

“A very expensive and extensive consultation process culminated in a review by a nominee of the department, Sharon Hughes. This review made a series of recommendations, some of which were accepted, others altered by the minister. The Attorney General was requested by the minister to determine whether the recommendations and alterations were legitimate especially those relating to the RGAT JLC which was to become a multiple and symbol group JLC for the grocery sector.

“The Attorney General told the minister that such a move was discriminatory against individual undertakings that elected to make purchases from a wholesaler of their choosing, whilst other similar undertakings that were not franchisees would not come under the wage setting mechanism of this new JLC.

“The Minister has now asked the Labour Court to reconstitute the ‘Old’ JLC which many would argue were equally discriminatory to their composition.

“It really is laughable were it not so serious,” the CSNA concluded.

Last Wednesday on the day of the announcement, Minister Bruton said the “move is part of an overall process that will reduce the number of JLCs by half and make further changes to improve Ireland’s competitiveness by enhancing wage flexibility while also ensuring protection for vulnerable workers.”

The orders signed by Minister Bruton provide for the abolition of two Joint Labour Committees; ‘Dublin Hotels’ and ‘Law Clerks’. Amendments will be made to the existing Establishment Orders in the areas of ‘Contract Cleaning’, ‘Hairdressing’, ‘Hotels (non-Dublin and Cork)’ and ‘Security’