INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
2. The dispute concerns grading in the Company's payroll office following a voluntary redundancy there. The redundancy was of a level 3 clerical officer (Paymaster) and there is now no position at that level in the office. The Union claims that the Company should restore a position at that level, i.e., it should delete a position at a lower level. The Company's response is that, as a consequence of work reorganisation, no justification remains for a level 3 position. The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 18th of February, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation on the 26th of March, 1997.
3. 1. The Paymaster's position equates to a level 3 clerical position and has existed for the past 30-40 years and was there before the amalgamation of Irish Ferries and B&I. It has always been filled by the upward promotion of members of the clerical staff.
2. When the amalgamation of Irish Ferries and B&I took place the Paymaster's position remained in place as a level 3 Clerical Officer and the previous incumbent took on additional duties from Irish Ferries.
3. The Company has imposed the voluntary redundancy package and has stated that it would abide by all agreements. Therefore, the Company should comply with custom and practice and in particular the "Coffey Agreement" which states that "when jobs or positions become vacated, such jobs would be at the bottom of a department and not at the top, thus preserving the promotional positions for clerical staff". The Union agreed with management to allow the voluntary redundancies to take place on the clear understanding that this agreement would apply.
4. The Company's decision to place a manager into a level 3 clerical position is, effectively, doing away with a promotional position for clerical workers.
5. The present incumbent in the pay office is a Clerical Officer and is performing the duties previously performed by his predecessor who was paid as the level 3 Paymaster. This situation obtains despite the fact that a manager has been moved into the area. The clerical worker should now be formally appointed to the position of Paymaster and should be paid at the level 3 grade.
4. 1. The Company has the right to fill positions left vacant by redundancy from within its own resources and without additional cost, where possible.
2. Before the reorganisation of Irish Ferries and B&I, there were two payroll departments and there is now just one. The person who was head of one took redundancy and the person who was the head of the other is now head of the single payroll department.
3. Redundancy in the area has been made possible by a combination of several factors, including a reduction in the number employed, and the move to cashless pay and monthly pay along with improved computerisation.
4. The Company, has not tried to replace clerical workers with management, rather clerical supervisors and managers have been appointed where appropriate in the last five years. In this case, it is not appropriate to appoint another supervisor.
5. The figures relating to the ratio of clerks and supervisors do not bear out the Union's position. In 1992, upon the take-over, there were 166 clerical workers and 35 supervisors (level 3). At present there are 84 clerical workers and 28 supervisors. The number of managers over the period has decreased by 20.
6. The Union has stated that a situation which existed in the old B&I Line in the early 1980s should apply now. This was a system whereby, when redundancies occurred, it would be the lower grades that would reduce while all the higher grades would be filled. Were this to continue, there would be an inordinate number of supervisors vis-�-vis the number of staff.
7. In neither of the two agreements in the past five years concerning clerical staff is it mentioned that the Company must maintain a certain number of staff in any one grade in general, and certainly not in the supervisory grade.
The Court has fully considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their oral and written submissions. The Court finds that in this case the Company failed to discuss the implications of the voluntary redundancy of the Paymaster with the Union prior to filling the post.
The Court recommends that, where voluntary redundancy is being accepted and the post being made vacant requires to be filled, the changes arising as a consequence of the redundancy should be discussed with the employee representatives.
The Court, however, in all the circumstances of this case, recommends that the present situation be accepted but that the parties agree arrangements to apply in the future.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th of April, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.