INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
OFFICE OF PUBLIC WORKS (OPW)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Application of craft analogue agreement to gardeners in Botanic Gardens (OPW).
2. A craft analogue review was carried out in 1995 by the Department of Finance and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. An increase of £6.81 per week was agreed in return for a range of flexibility/productivity measures. These measures included:-
(1) Co-operation with training and re-training programmes.
(2) Cleaning up after work.
(4) Co-operation with new technology.
(5) Co-operation and participation in Health and Safety Programmes.
(6) Mobility and deployment.
In December, 1995 the Office of Public Works (OPW) informed the Union that the gardeners had not been included in the discussions because of an ongoing dispute over the introduction of a modular system of training of apprentice gardeners in the Botanic Gardens. The Company claims that the six agreed productivity measures have very little relevance to the work of gardeners, and that the gardeners must agree to the introduction of the new modular training system in return for payment of the analogue increase. The Union contends that it was unaware that gardeners were to be treated differently from all other crafts persons and that it is willing to discuss the implementation of the six agreed productivity measures.
The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on 25th April, 1996. As agreement could not be reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 11th June, 1996 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 12th July, 1996.
3. 1. The primary function of craft gardeners is to plant, propagate and maintain the gardens. Their current role with regard to students is very much peripheral to their maintenance duties. The introduction of the new modular system would dramatically change the role of gardener to educator and would lead to increased workload, responsibility and accountability.
2. The workers concerned should not be isolated from all other craft workers and obliged to implement productivity measures which are outside of the agreement. They are willing to discuss implementation of the agreed measures and to independently negotiate on the possible introduction of the new modular system.
4. 1. During the negotiations of the craft analogue agreement, the Unions involved accepted that gardeners would not be covered by the agreement. Of the six agreed productivity measures, only item 4 would have a limited relevance to gardeners.
2. Students in the Botanic Gardens have traditionally assisted gardeners with their daily duties. The gardeners then completed assessment forms on their performance. The workers have refused to complete the new assessment forms as they hope to lodge a claim for regrading to technician status after the expiry of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work.
The Court has considered the submissions from the parties and has addressed the effect of the conditions attached to the payment of the analogue increase on the claimants. The Court has concluded that the OPW's arguments as to the effect of their proposals is sustained and, accordingly, recommends that the Union agree to the claimants carrying out the assessment of students in the Botanic Gardens. The involvement envisaged by the Court is as set out in Appendix 3 of the OPW's submission to the Court. If the involvement extends beyond that in the future it is open to the Union to enter a new claim. The OPW, on acceptance of the above by the Union, should pay the agreed analogue increase of £6.81 per week.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd August, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.