INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Permanency for contract staff.
2. In 1994 the I.D.A. and Eolas merged to form three agencies - Forbairt, Forfas and IDA Ireland. Approximately 150 staff had been employed on a 2-year renewable contract basis and it was agreed at the time to review their posts for permanency.
The dispute concerns a claim by 9 Administrative Officers (AOs), who work on the EU-funded Technology Transfer (TT) Programme, to be made permanent at their existing grade or at the nearest equivalent grade. Management contends that the AO grade is now redundant and proposes to appoint the staff concerned at Grade 6 level. The Grade 6 maximum salary point is lower than the current salary of some AOs, but Management proposes retention of their existing salaries on a "red circle" basis. The Union claims that Grade 6 is a clerical grade which does not equate with the duties and responsibilities carried out by AOs, who should be graded at Grade 5 level.
The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference on 23rd February, 1996 under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. It was agreed to refer the dispute to the Labour Court on 12th March, 1996 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 29th April, 1996.
3. 1. The duties performed by AOs include research, preparing reports, co-ordinating seminars, etc., while Grade 6 duties are clerical, involving typing, filing and other secretarial duties. If regraded to Grade 6, the staff concerned would incur financial losses, loss of status and loss of promotional opportunities.
2. All other contract staff have been made permanent at their existing grade and salary scale, including all of the Technology Transfer Executives. No other staff were subjected to any type of review in relation to permanency and it is inequitable to impose a review on the staff concerned. In 1994 and 1995 two AOs were regraded to CO3 and Grade 5 levels, which equate roughly with the AO grade. Regional directors also support regrading at Grade 5 level.
4. 1. The original role that determined the appointment of AOs no longer exists, but there is a need for general support staff within the regional offices. A brief analysis, which was carried out through the Forfas O & M service, concluded that the role of AO was broadly similar to that of CO2 and of Grade 6.
2. The determination of the most appropriate grade is complicated by the fact that some staff are employed on a part-time contract at AO level and a part-time contract at CO1 level. Another difficulty is that an AO and a CO1 in the Athlone office are employed to do the same job, in a job-sharing capacity. The ongoing review should be extended to include the staff concerned, to provide a complete analysis of the staff resources, requirements and duties carried out at each level.
The question before the Court is the grade at which the staff concerned in this dispute are to be made permanent.
It is the view of the Court, given all of the views expressed by the parties in their oral and written submissions, and in subsequent correspondence, that the appropriate grade can only be decided by evaluation of the jobs concerned.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the parties agree arrangements to have the jobs evaluated as a matter of urgency.
In the interim, and in the interests of good industrial relations, the Court also recommends that management deals with the issue of increments in a sympathetic and meaningful way.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.