The Labour Court has issued a recommendation on the Tara Mines pay dispute urging all unions and management to enter into joint discussions on cost-saving measures.
Among the measures it suggests is that all parties should co-operate to achieve a substantial reduction in overtime hours beyond the proposed reduction included in the company's proposals.
The court's recommendation is that the joint discussions on savings should be completed by 26th March or the issue should be returned to the court. The recommendation will now have to be considered by the trade unions involved, SIPTU, UNITE and TEEU and the mine management, Boliden.
In the recommendation which was issued on Tuesday afternoon, the Labour Court said that, as viable alternative suggestions have been proposed by the unions, these should be assessed and given serious consideration before the court could recommend in favour of any reduction in basic pay, guaranteed bonus payment and/or current premia.
"In this regard, the Court is satisfied that significant reduction in operating costs, including payroll costs, are absolutely essential to secure the investment required for the remainder of the life of the mine and retention of employment," it added.
The court recommended that all the parties should immediately enter into joint discussions to conclude an agreement on cost-saving measures to deliver efficiencies and productivity which will yield the required reduction in labour costs, which should be proportionate across all sectors of the workforce, including management.
The company issued protective notice to all its 670 workers in January, sparking a furious reaction from unions at the mine and among local public representatives.
The mine-owners told staff they were seeking a 10 per cent pay cut, a reduction in overtime and 25 redundancies through early retirements.