INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Promotion from scale 1 to scale 2.
2. In 1992, a new Company/Union comprehensive agreement, called New Deal, was negotiated. Prior to New Deal, there were 6 grades for operatives, each with a 15 point salary scale. Under the New Deal it was decided to merge grades 1-3 into scale 1, and grades 4-6 into scale 2. It is ultimately intended to have a single scale. At present , both salary scales have 20 points as follows:-
Scale 1 £240.62 + 19 x £2.87 to £298.06 per week
Scale 2 £298.06 + 19 x £2.87 to £344.43 per week
The dispute concerns the method to be employed when a worker is upgraded from scale 1 to scale 2. Prior to New Deal, workers were upgraded from one grade to another on the same point e.g., from point 12 grade 2 to point 12 grade 3. In 1994, due to a management error, 10 workers were upgraded from temporary to permanent positions and from scale 1 to scale 2 on the same point, resulting in an increase of approximately £45 per week for each worker. This created an anomaly whereby the regraded workers, with less service, were earning more than workers on scale 2 with longer service. The Union is claiming that all upgrading should be from point to point. In December, 1995, the Company proposed a new system which would allow increases ranging from a minimum of £8.80 per week to a maximum of £45.20 per week. The Union rejected the offer.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and two conciliation conferences took place on 30th August, 1995 and 1st April, 1996. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 2nd May, 1996, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 6th June, 1996.
3. 1. The likelihood of anomalies arising, such as teamleaders being on the same pay as operatives under their supervision, was raised by the Union in 1992. On the subject of future regrading within the new scales, the Company stated that "the normal practice of movement within the 2 grades would apply, the status quo would apply". There is no documentation in New Deal to indicate a change of method of transfer from one scale to the next.
2. The workers who had formally received their permanent upgrades in writing were instructed by management to complete temporary upgrade documentation until the issue was resolved, in order to receive their additional pay. This situation still prevails.
3. Prior to New Deal, workers frequently moved point to point from grade 2 to grade 6, resulting in a pay increase of approximately £42 per week. Moving point to point on the new scales results in only a slightly higher payment (£43-45 per week).
4. 1. The regrading of the 10 workers was inadvertent. The Union at first indicated a willingness to solve the problem but no progress was made. The current situation is unfair and cost increasing. The Company's proposal of December, 1995, is reasonable, and eliminates the possibility of regraded workers earning more than more senior colleagues.
2. The Company has not attempted to retrieve any of the increases given to the 10 workers. New Deal does not make any reference to regrading from scale 1 to scale 2. The Company does intend to have a single scale in the future but at present this would prove too costly.
The Court, given all the circumstances of this case as expressed in the oral and written submissions of the parties, recommends that the transfers made to date should be effected in accordance with the interpretation of the Union.
It is clear to the Court, however, that to continue to effect transfers in this way would give rise to further anomalies and would not be conducive to maintaining a climate of good industrial relations.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the parties, to avoid such a development, seek to introduce an acceptable single salary scale. Discussions between the parties to take full account of the cost implications of the introduction of such a scale.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th June, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.