INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CENTRAL BANK OF IRELAND
- AND -
MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE
1. Introduction of single operative system.
2. The dispute concerns the Bank's proposal for the introduction of a method of work involving one person operation of machinery (single operator) by currency checking staff. Pertinent to the issue is the payment of 2% under Clause 2 (iv) of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW), - 1% has already been paid under Clause 3 of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP), and another item is recruitment of staff.
The Bank originally introduced a single operator system in 1989, following Labour Court Recommendation No. LCR12302. However, following some problems with the quality of bank notes, it reverted to dual operators. The Bank now proposes to operate 8 machines with 16 staff - one group of 8 operators and one group of 8 relief workers. The relief workers will operate the machines when the main group takes tea/lunch breaks. At present there is one preparer of bundles and one person who operates the machine to process the bundle, with accountability accordingly. The Bank wants to use single operaters for security reasons. The new system is to have a 3 month trial period.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and 3 conciliation conferences took place, on 4th March, 1996, 11th March, 1996 and 9th May, 1996. The Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) had informal discussion with the parties based on draft settlement proposal which he put to the parties. Paragraph 4 of the proposal is as follows:-
"The system will be introduced by way of a three month trial
period and the system will be monitored by a committee
comprising two currency checkers, one supervisor and one
management representative. Issues will be dealt with as and
when they arise. At the conclusion of the trial period the single
operator system will continue to operate (under protest if
necessary) while the issue is brought to conclusion by way of
full utilisation of procedures."
As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 5th July, 1996.
3. 1. The Bank's proposal for single operators, i.e. one person taking one bundle of notes at a time and processing them through to finalisation, is acceptable only if there are no interruptions. Using relief operators for breaks does not add to the security of the system. The machines should be closed down for the breaks. With the quality of bundles improving, throughput has been increasing. A number of Union proposals (including improved machinery) were rejected by the Bank.
2. A letter from the Bank on 6th April, 1995, referred to "work practices, recruitment of staff and security procedures and controls" - all of which are encompassed in the Bank's requirement for a single operator system. If the Union is to agree to the Bank's proposals for single operators, the remaining 2% of the PCW should be paid.
3. The 6 staff which the Bank intends recruiting are replacement staff, not additional. At least 3 of these should be made permanent.
4. 1. The single operator method significantly improves the system for the processing of bundles, as only one person handles each input bundle and, in most cases, each output bundle. The system also represents a 50% reduction in the number of staff processing the bundles. The proposed handover procedure would maintain security and would not incur a significant loss of machine running time. If the system was to close for breaks there would be a 20% reduction in throughput in the area.
2. The Bank is willing to re-introduce the single operator system on a three month trial basis and would seek to resolve any problems arising. It has also agreed to recruit additional staff in the area, 3 of whom will be made permanent.
The Court recommendes that the single operator system be introduced on a three month trial basis, as outlined in the Industrial Relations Officer's proposal (paragraph 4).
During the period, the employees' concerns, including that of personal integrity/security, should be addressed by the parties.
The Court further recommends that the Bank takes into account this change in working arrangements, in the wider negotiations on Company proposals.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th July, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.