INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(3), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
TEAM AER LINGUS
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Productivity issues arising from LCR14552 with particular reference to the "O'Connell" award.
2. The dispute concerns the issue of productivity payments to approximately 80 Airline Maintenance Assistants (AMAs).
In January, 1994, the parties agreed on the appointment of the "O'Connell Committee" to deal with the issue of productivity. On the 12th of April, 1994, the Committee recommended, inter alia, that "the 'on scale' payment element should be at a performance level of 46". On the question as to what amount ought to accrue to AMAs in respect of past performance, it was the Committee's opinion that "some payment would be warranted in respect of the changes that have come about since October 1982". As to the specific amount, the Committee recommended that "a sum equivalent to 6 months at current payment levels in respect of 46 performance be paid at such time as the Company is again trading profitably".
The Union is seeking the implementation of the O'Connell report. The Company rejected the Union's claim. The matter was the subject of further local discussions, and conciliation under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission at which agreement was not reached. The dispute was investigated by the Labour Court, on the 20th of March, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(3) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
3. 1. Of 1600 workers in the airline maintenance facility, the workers in question are the only grade not in receipt of productivity pay in some form or other. The AMAs have co-operated with the change process at a performance level well in excess of 46.
2. In fairness and equity, and given the precedent established by Craft workers, middle management and clerical workers, there is no justification for the continuing refusal by the Company to implement the agreed third party findings.
3. The Company as a whole is very profitable and is in a stronger position in 1997 than it was in 1994 when its viability was threatened. The total cost of concession of the O'Connell award would be less than £2,000 per week. This would equate to less than the cost of two contract craft workers, some of whom are reported to be paid in the region of £1,000 per week each.
4. 1. The issue before the Court was dealt with in LCR14552 which was accepted by all parties, including the AMAs. That Recommendation and subsequent clarifications are very clear that the then current productivity scheme should cease immediately.
2. The Company is incurring significant losses. The operating loss for 1996 will be in the order of £5.3m. The Company's 5-year plan projects operating losses of £3.4m and £1.5m in 1997 and 1988, respectively, and an operating profit of £1.7m in 1999.
3. Many groups in the Company feel they did not benefit from the old productivity schemes which existed in the Company. These include the executive group and the engineering staff. These groups are processing claims which the Company cannot meet. The common agreement which was arrived at with all staff in 1994 provided the basis for building the future and superseded arrangements which existed prior to that. The Court investigated fully all the issues then and the claimants gave their input to that process.
The issue to be addressed by the Court was the Union's claim that productivity payments were due to a group of workers, i.e., the AMAs.
In particular, the Union submitted that the award of productivity recommended by a committee (referred to as the "O'Connell" award) in 1994 should be honoured.
The Court accepts that the O'Connell report does not feature in the report of Court Recommendation No. LCR14552. Nevertheless, productivity was featured and the Court made a specific recommendation on this matter.
The Court has examined the O'Connell findings and has taken into account the Union's submission in support of the AMAs' claim.
The terms of reference for the O'Connell committee included the following: "In the event that the recommendation determines that there is an entitlement accruing to the AMAs, the Company will recognise that, but payment could only be met when the financial situation of the Company allows it".
The Court in LCR14552 stated:- "that arrears of productivity money due to any group will not be paid but will be subject to review in 3 years' time and in light of the Company's then viability".
On the basis of the information supplied by the Company in its submission, the Court is satisfied that, whilst considerable improvement in its trading position has been achieved, it has not yet reached a position where it could implement the award without putting in danger the economies already achieved. The Court, accordingly, does not recommend concession of this claim at this time.
The Court is of the view that Team Aer Lingus is a separate "stand alone" entity.
The Court notes that since the issue of LCR14552, the claimant group, i.e., the AMAs have been regraded which accorded some monetary gain. This regrading could have an affect on the O'Connell award.
In all the circumstances the Court recommends that the issue of productivity for AMAs be re-examined by the parties when the Company's finances permit.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th of April, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.