INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
NATIONAL BUS AND RAIL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Implementation of a 39 hour week at Tralee depot.
2. The negotiation and implementation of the 39 hour week provided for in the Programme for National Recovery (PNR) was the subject of three Labour Court recommendations. LCR13414 issued in September, 1991 dealt with its introduction and LCR14143 issued in July, 1993 dealt with the effective dates for implementing the 39 hour week. Arising from this recommendation the Union claimed that drivers on 'non-cities' services should benefit from the 39 hour week by way of a continuous payment of an additional one hour's overtime per week. This issue was the subject of a further Labour Court investigation. In LCR14498 which was issued in July, 1994 the Court recommended as follows:-
"...............(1) That the parties given the above criteria, seek to
reach agreement on the 39 hour week;
- (2) That they complete their discussions within four weeks of the issue of this Recommendation;
(3) That, subject to agreement being reached, the workers be paid a sum equivalent of one hour's overtime per week for 6 months at overtime rate.
(4) In the event that agreement is not reached within the period specified above, the Court will review the discussions and issue a definitive Recommendation."
Following negotiations held at local level, a lump sum payment of six months retrospection based on one hour's overtime per week was agreed and paid to drivers in various depots as soon as the revised rosters were introduced. The relevant date in Tralee was 17th December, 1995.
The Union is claiming payment of one hour's overtime per week for the period 17th December, 1995 to 7th January, 1996 on the grounds that local management frustrated discussions to finalise implementation of the 39 hour week for drivers in Tralee.
Management rejected the claim stating that the workers there were treated in the same manner as drivers in other locations. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on 2nd September, 1997. Agreement was not possible. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on 7th October, 1997. A Court hearing was held on 9th December, 1997.
3. 1. The Union encountered difficulties with Management at all stages in negotiations and the Company prevaricated on implementing the 39 hour week.
2. Following acceptance of LCR14498 further correspondence was entered into and meetings held. Specific criteria were adopted for the two pilot locations (Dundalk and Limerick). However, further delays occurred despite the Union's best efforts to resolve outstanding problems at these locations.
3. After the Company's announcement in April, 1995 that the 39 hour week would be implemented there was widespread disagreement because the calculation of the payment and who should be paid became the focus of dispute. This lead to further delays.
4. The implementation date in Tralee was 17th December, 1995 and the payment date was 16th February, 1996. Management there set out deliberately to frustrate the introduction of a 39 hour week as proposed under the PNR. In return for acceptance of a modest three year deal on pay (inclusive of a 39 hour week) it is reasonable to expect that a five year delay to achieve the reduction merits compensation.
4. 1. There was a wide variation in the dates in which agreement on the method of implementing the reduced working week was reached at various depots. The dates ranged from 12th May, 1995 to May, 1996. The workers in Tralee were treated no differently to those in other depots. The revised rosters covering the reduced basic working hours were fully implemented in Tralee some five months prior to this matter being finalised in all depots.
2. Management made every effort to conclude negotiations on the method of implementing the 39 hour week for the drivers within the terms of the Labour Court Recommendations. Subsequent agreements reached with the Unions were in full and final settlement of the 39 basic hours per week issue.
3. If this claim is conceded it will have serious implications for all the other drivers involved and also for other grades of staff employed by the Company.
The claim before the Court is based on an alleged inordinate delay in finalising arrangements for the introduction of the reduced working week in the Company's Tralee depot. While there is some validity in this assertion, from the submissions made to the Court it appears that negotiations in respect of other locations were also protracted.
The lump sum paid to the claimants in this case was calculated on the basis set out in the Company's letter of 26th of May, 1995. This was the same basis as was used in the case of all other employees covered by Recommendation No. LCR14498.
The Court does not see any special circumstances relating to the Tralee depot which would justify a higher lump sum payment than that paid to employees at other locations. In these circumstances the Court does not recommend concession of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th December, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.