INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE (MSF)
2. The worker is currently employed by the University as an Assistant Lecturer. The claim by the Union is that the worker should have been promoted to the grade of Lecturer.
In 1985, after negotiations between the University and the Union had failed to produce a mechanism for academic promotion, the issue came before the Labour Court for a recommendation. LCR9718 issued in May, 1985. The recommendation dealt in general with the National Institute of Higher Education (NIHE), and an appendix to it dealt specifically with the University (then NIHE Limerick) under the heading "Proposals for Academic Promotion".
The worker first applied for promotion in June, 1988. He was unsuccessful and was informed that the main reason for his failure was that he did not have a PhD. The Union claims that management had changed the criteria required, as listed in LCR9718, regarding promotion.
The worker applied a second time for promotion on October, 1991 and a third time in February, 1993. On both occasions he was unsuccessful and each time was informed that his lack of a PhD was the main problem. On the third occasion he was told that he was "not sufficiently active in research".
The Union is seeking the following for its member:-
1. Promotion, forthwith, to the appropriate point of the Lecturer scale
which our member would currently enjoy had he been promoted in
accordance with the mechanism on the first occasion.
2. Retrospection commensurate with such promotion.
3. Compensation for the abuses and appalling treatment our member
has had to endure throughout this process.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and two conciliation conferences took place on 17th May, 1995, and 24th October, 1995. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 12th March, 1996, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 2nd July, 1996, in Limerick.
3. 1. After the worker was unsuccessful for the first time, the University provided documentation regarding the Promotion Mechanism. This document had a number of serious inaccuracies and differences when compared to the assessment criteria used in LCR9718 (details supplied to the Court). LCR 9718 makes no reference to the necessity of having a PhD qualification. There was no previous mention of candidates with PhD's receiving favourable consideration, or candidates who had not yet acquired a PhD providing details as to when they expected to have one. The University has used this new criteria as an excuse not to promote the worker.
2. The worker applied for promotion a second time in October, 1991 and did not receive an "official" letter in reply for 16 months. The Promotions Committee accepted that his "teaching had been outstanding in quality and effectiveness "but that he had not been "sufficiently active in research". The primary aim of the University is to teach, yet the worker's obvious qualifications in this field were not deemed sufficient by management to promote him. The Union has been unable to establish what is meant by the phrase "sufficiently active".
3. The worker met the Promotions Committee a third time, along with 2 of his colleagues. Both of his colleagues were promoted to the first point on the Lecturer Scale, subject to them undertaking work which would entitle them to a PhD qualification. However, neither of them were in active pursuit of a doctorate degree at the time. The worker has more publications to his name than both of his colleagues combined. As a full-time member he was unable to pursue a PhD at the University.
4. 1. LCR9718 was based on the criteria set out by the University in its submission to the Court at the time of the hearing in 1985. The criteria involves a demonstrated ability in existing and previous posts in such areas as teaching, research and contributions to the following:-
curriculum development, development of the institute, institute administrative actives and learned society and public bodies.
The University has adhered to the terms of LCR9718 in all cases presented for promotion, including the worker concerned. Candidates without PhD's have been promoted in the past. The worker was not treated unfairly.
2. Following a letter from the Union in December, 1994, in which it stated that the worker had not received fair and equitable treatment, a meeting was held to discuss the issues raised by the Union. Following the meeting, the worker was invited to attend the next Promotions Committee conference but he did not attend. At the conciliation conference on the 24th October, 1995 the worker was again asked to attend a Committee meeting to resolve the issue of promotion. Instead, he choose to refer the issue to the Labour Court. The Committee had in fact agreed to resolve the issue at the conciliation conference. Only the question of retrospection remained.
The Court, having considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their oral and written submissions, finds in this case that the claimant has grounds for the grievance he expresses.
It appears to the Court that both the Union and the University should discuss the promotions mechanisms used and fine tune this to ensure there is no ambiguity and that all parties, the University, the committees, the employees and their representatives are clear as to the policy, the mechanism and the criteria to be used for promotions.
The Court recognises the personal difficulties the claimant had with regard to registering to do his PhD, and the perception that registration in his own college was not possible.
Given that this latter obstacle has been removed, it is the view of the Court that he should seriously consider pursuing this qualification.
With regard to his claim the Court, taking account of the views expressed by the management representatives at the hearing, recommends that the claimant go before the committee at its next sitting and the College should ensure that his application receives sympathetic consideration by the committee.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th September, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.