INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
THE DUBLIN PRINTING GROUP OF UNIONS (DPGU)
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute concerning the inclusion of "Bonus Weeks" in the calculation of earnings for pension purposes.
2. For over 30 years, production staff have received one week's additional pay as compensation for liability to work on 4 bank holidays, i.e., St. Patrick's Day, Easter Monday, Whit Monday and the August bank holiday Monday.
A formal agreement was reached about 2 years ago whereby this payment was increased to 3 weeks' pay to cover liability to work 3 further bank holidays.
The DPGU claims that the additional 3 weeks' pay should be included in the calculation of earnings, for pension purposes. The claim concerns approximately 280 workers.
The Company's position is that the claim is in breach of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) and also that, in any event, the 3 weeks' payment is in the nature of an overtime payment and, accordingly, does not fall within the scope of the pension scheme.
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 7th of April, 1997.
3. 1. There are two methods of payment of the additional 3 weeks' pay. In the first category, the bank holidays have become normal working days and the additional payments cannot be deemed as overtime because staff are paid whether or not they actually work on any or all of the bank holidays. The weekly salary plus the 3 extra weeks amount to an annual composite rate to cover the inclusion of bank holidays in the normal roster.
2. Under the second method of payment, staff are obliged to meet the staffing requirements of the department for bank holidays. The numbers required are agreed by management and the unions. In the case of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the additional 3 weeks' pay is multiplied by the number of staff required and is then divided among all NUJ staff, as all are available for bank holiday working, if required.
3. The NUJ in the Irish Times has never accepted the principle of paid overtime. They negotiated the agreement on the understanding that 4 extra working days constituted a change in conditions.
4. All staff are obliged to be available to work bank holidays and to maintain the staffing level. This is a condition of employment. In these circumstances, the payment cannot be deemed to be overtime as there is no right of refusal to work, as would apply to a management request for staff to work normal overtime.
5. The payment falls into the same category as shift or unsociable hours payments.
6. In the light of the commitment from staff, it is unreasonable of the Company to refuse to include the payments in salary for the purposes of calculation of Pension.
7. The claim is not precluded by the PCW. The original one week's pay should have been included in pension calculations.
4. 1. The Union's claim is precluded by the terms of the PCW and Partnership 2000 (details supplied to the Court).
2. The definition of salary for pension purposes is already sufficiently wide to include all elements which arise in the course of normal working. In fact, more elements are included than is the case in most other schemes.
3. The Company's main competitor which has a similar form of additional payment for bank holiday working does not include this for pension purposes either.
4. The cost of introducing this change would be very considerable (details supplied to the Court).
5. The precedent of including payments, which are essentially overtime payments, for pension purposes is a dangerous one that has cost implications in a number of other areas.
6. The Company has a very good pension scheme, which is non-contributory. The elements of pay for each category which are used in calculating pension entitlements are defined in the Trust Deed. These are advised to each member in the membership booklet. While actual definitions may vary between groups, the common thread is that basic pay, productivity payments and service payments, night differentials and sales bonus are included. All other payments such as those of an overtime nature are excluded. This is fair and reasonable, and better than 60% of pension schemes in operation elsewhere.
The Court has fully considered all of the views expressed by the parties in their oral and written submissions.
The Court finds that, traditionally, the payment in respect of public holidays was excluded from the calculation of basic pay and, consequently, not included for pension purposes.
The Court finds that the claim is cost-increasing and contrary to the terms of the PCW/Partnership 2000.
Accordingly, the Court does not recommend concession of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th of April, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.