INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
TIPPERARY COUNTY COUNCIL
- AND -
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
TECHNICAL ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
1. Interpretation of Clause 7(11) of Company/Union Agreement (Implementation of £16.04 Local Authorities Agreement).
2. In early 1993, agreement was reached between the Local Government Staff Negotiations Board and the ICTU Group of Unions in relation to reducing the earnings gap between general operative grades employed by Local Authorities in the Dublin area and those employed outside. The implementation of the overall figure involved (£16.04 per week) was to be the subject of local negotiations throughout the Country.
In October, 1993 the Council and the Unions reached agreement on the basis for the implementation of the increase. The last phase of the increase was due to be paid on 1st July, 1995. The Council proposed to make this payment on foot of a change in the hours of work as provided for under Clause 7(ii) of the October, 1993 Agreement. (Details supplied to the Court).
The Unions' position is that, while they agreed to enter into discussions in relation to changes in working hours, no discussion has taken place. They claim that the Council's interpretation of Clause 7(ii) is incorrect and at variance with the terms and the spirit of the Agreement both locally and nationally.
Following local level discussions the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference took place on 2nd November, 1995.
As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 12th March, 1996 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Clonmel on 4th June, 1996.
3. 1. Clause 7(ii) provides for negotiation on hours of work and is specific in relation to the full use of normal industrial relations procedures. The Council is trying to introduce the fall-back position without any attempt to negotiate an agreed settlement.
2. The Unions agreed to enter into discussions regarding change in relation to working hours. As no discussions took place the areas of disagreement are not identified and the industrial relations machinery referred to in Clause 7(ii) has not been utilised.
3. In February, 1995 the Unions indicated to management that there was nothing automatic in the introduction of changes in the hours of work nor were there any preconditions for the payment of the third phase of £5. In the circumstances it is illogical and in breach of the agreement for the Council to insist on any changes before the final phase of £5 is paid.
4. 1. On 6th July, 1995 the Council proposed that both parties enter into discussions on changes in working hours and that such discussions be concluded on or before 14th August, 1995. If agreement was reached the revised working hours would be implemented immediately. If agreement was not reached the working time system provided for in the agreement of October, 1993 would be implemented and the appropriate industrial relations machinery utilised to resolve any differences. The Unions declined the offer.
2. The change in working hours is intrinsically linked to the payment of the final phase of the increase. The Council has insisted throughout that there had to be a change in working hours as it is the only real measure of productivity the Council would gain from the entire agreement.
3. It is clear that in the absence of agreement on the change in working hours, Clause (ii)(c) would come into operation, and that the revised hours of 8.15 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. would be introduced. This revised working time system is viewed by the Council as an interim measure, pending the resolution of the issue.
4. There was never any question of the final phase being paid without agreement on changes in working hours.
While the Court is not prepared to apportion blame as to which party is responsible for the impasse which has developed in relation to the issue in dispute, it does, having regard to the submissions made, and to the content of the agreement on the special increase, make the following recommendation:-
(a) that the parties commence immediate discussions with the objective of reaching agreement on the introduction of revised working hours;
(b) The above discussions to be concluded within a period of one month from the date of issue of this recommendation;
(c) In the event of agreement not being reached by that time the working arrangement of 8.15 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. be introduced at that point;
(d) Simultaneous with the introduction of the above hours of work the outstanding phase of the special increase be paid, with retrospection to the appropriate date.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.