INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
1. Appeal against the Rights Commissioners Recommendation CW15/95
2. The dispute concerns the discontinuance of an allowance of £774 per annum to the two workers. In 1978, worker A was granted a Senior Presentation Director allowance, and in 1986 worker B was granted the same. The allowances were discontinued in July, 1995.
The dispute was referred to the Rights Commissioner and an investigation took place on 29th February, 1996. The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is as follows:-
"I recommend that the Union and the two workers accept that the allowance was properly discontinued."
(The two workers were named in the Recommendation).
The Union appealed the Recommendation to the Labour Court on 9th May, 1996, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on 28th May, 1996.
3. 1. The allowance was agreed to in 1978, and was permanent and pensionable. The allowance was based on long standing seniority and service rendered, and was unilaterally withdrawn. It was paid in addition to salary, it was not part of it.
2. There had been ongoing discussions between the parties regarding a comprehensive benefit package but at no time was the issue of the allowance in question ever mentioned. As a result of their allowance being withdrawn, the two workers are on the same salary as less senior colleagues. The two workers continue to do the same work in the same department as before.
4. 1. The two workers were awarded a comprehensive overall benefits package, following negotiations over a number of years. The final package included an increase of £4,219 per annum on the maximum point of the scale, a once-off payment of £8,130 in compensation for loss of roster duty, a once-off payment of £1,500 for 'full co-operation' and additional annual leave. The Rights Commissioner in his Findings and Recommendation found that the allowance would be subsumed in the overall negotiation.
2. The allowance was granted in regards to the workers' duties as Senior Presentation Directors. They are no longer doing the same work as applied at the time of receiving the allowance, and, as such, the allowance no longer applies.
The Court finds that the parties, in their negotiations on the comprehensive package, at no time referred to the specific allowance paid to the two employees here concerned.
It is the view of the Court that the Company assumed that the negotiations would take account of such payments, and likewise the Union assumed such payments were not part of the discussions.
Given the nature of the allowance, that it could and did only apply to the two employees and was paid as a consequence of a specific written agreement, the Court finds that any change to this agreement should rightly have been the subject of discussion and agreement. The employer and the Union representation, however, given the issues being discussed in the negotiations, including the equalisation of rates of pay and the subsuming of certain payments and allowances, should have clarified the positions in relation to allowances applying to specific individuals.
In all the circumstances,and in equity, the Court considers that the employees concerned should be paid a lump sum equivalent to twice the annual allowance in full and final settlement of this dispute.
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation should be amended accordingly.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th June, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.