INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH LIFE ASSURANCE PLC
- AND -
MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE
1. Dispute concerning the attendance of Professional Financial Advisors (P.F.A.'s) at sales process training courses.
2. The Company employs 420 P.F.A.'s. It has introduced a number of restructuring plans over the past number of years and in late 1995 announced its "Force for the Future" plan which involves major restructuring changes. The plan is in the process of being negotiated between the parties but no agreement has been reached. In March 1996 the Company appointed three trainers and organised training programmes for P.F.A.'s at its different offices. The Union claimed that the Company's action was part of its "Force for the Future" plan and instructed the P.F.A.'s not to attend the courses on the grounds that agreement had not been reached on the plan. Management maintains that it had the right and responsibility to appoint training staff and assign them accordingly. The training was not part of the plan. The Union banned trainers delivering the programme and Management suspended workers who refused to attend training. These actions were suspended pending the resolution of the disputes through procedures. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 12th April 1996. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 2nd May 1996. A Court hearing was held on the 10th June, 1996.
3. 1. The training courses to be undertaken by the P.F.A.'s are perceived by them to be part of the Company's strategic plan as is the introduction of new technology and all the other proposed changes. These changes must be discussed and negotiated before implementation.
2. The training courses are strongly linked to the aspects of the plan involving the validation of P.F.A.'s job performance. This has very serious implications for the job security of P.F.A.'s.
3. The Union contends that the trainers should be withdrawn until all aspects of the Company's plan are negotiated and agreed. It also seeks the assistance of the Court in investigating the poor industrial relations climate within the Company.
4. 1. The Union has consistently complained over the past number of years about what it regards as inadequate training for the P.F.A. grade. There were a large number of applicants for the positions of trainers from Union members. The Union did not make the Company aware at the time of the appointments that there were any difficulties, perceived or otherwise with these appointments.
2, Management has the responsibility to assign and train staff. The Company has an agreement with the Union that P.F.A.'s will attend meetings arranged by the Company. Management contends that training programmes fall within the ambit of this agreement.
3. The appointment of trainers is not part of the Company's "Force for the Future" plan. It is therefore unreasonable of the Union to object to trainers on that basis.
It is clear that an issue that would not, in normal circumstances have been contentious, has taken on a major significance because of its timing and the background of the Company's restructuring plan.
The Court notes the Company's reassurance to the Union that the appointment of these trainers is part of an effort to strengthen the training area, and does not represent a move towards implementation of the new plan. Acceptance of the training would not be seen as part acceptance of the new plan.
The Court further noted that any misapprehension that might exist that these trainers would be responsible for validation of personnel, should this be implemented, was dispelled by the Company.
Given the assurances by the Company the Court recommends that the employees co-operate with the new trainers and the training programmes.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th June, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.