Company will bear full responsibility for escalation of dispute
November 29th: Insurance giant Irish Life has admitted that it is refusing to negotiate collectively on pay for up to 800 union members. The admission came in a letter to staff from CEO Bill Kyle circulated as Unite members prepare to meet next week to determine the next steps in their month-old industrial dispute with the company. The dispute centres on Irish Life’s unilateral imposition of a new pay model on what the company terms ‘off-scale’ workers – a category which has mushroomed over recent years and now comprises the majority of workers. The company has persistently refused to attend the Labour Court in respect of all its workers.
Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Maeve Brehony said:
“This week Irish Life CEO Bill Kyle not only reaffirmed the company’s refusal to negotiate collectively with off-scale workers, who by now comprise up to 800 Unite members. He also stated his belief – or the belief of Canadian parent company GWL – that this refusal to negotiate ‘is in the best interests of staff and critically important to maintaining a sustainable and successful company’.
“I would remind Mr Kyle that it is for Irish Life workers to decide what is in their best interests. The determination shown by our members over the past month clearly demonstrates their conviction that collective negotiation on pay is in their best interests.
“I would also remind him that Irish Life’s success is built on the commitment and loyalty of its workers, fostered by a decades-long culture of negotiation, consultation and respect for employees – a culture which has been undermined in the three short years since the company was bought by GWL.
“Unite member are determined to vindicate their right to negotiate collectively with their employer, and will be meeting next Monday and Tuesday to decide further steps in their industrial action. Irish Life will bear full responsibility for any escalation of this dispute.
“Over the past month, our members have been encouraged by the solidarity and support shown by the entire trade union movement”, Ms Brehony concluded.