INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. 1. Lunch allowance.
2. Car insurance.
3. Car park space.
2. 1. Lunch allowance:- The Company pays a daily branch lunch allowance of £1.55 in luncheon vouchers or a field staff lunch allowance of £4.80 to staff working more than 5 miles from their work base for more than 5 hours. The Union's claim, on behalf of one employee who was temporarily transferred to the Long Mile Road premises, is for payment of the field staff lunch allowance for 33 days.
2. Car insurance:- The Company states that employees who receive car allowances are refunded their insurance premia up to comprehensive cover for themselves and for their spouses, provided that their spouse holds a full driving licence. Additional cover such as open drive or cover for a named driver must be paid for by the employee. The Union claims that in 1994 and 1995 two employees were refunded their premia in full, which included open drive cover, and that the Company's refusal to refund them for the same cover in 1996 is an attempt to alter the Company/Union agreement without negotiation or discussion.
3. Car park space:- In 1969/'70 agreement was reached between Management and the Union to allocate nine car parking spaces to union members based on length of service. In recent years the demand for management spaces has increased and the nine spaces were transferred to adjacent car parks at the Company's expense. The Company wishes to negotiate a buy-out of these car park spaces.
The issues in dispute were the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the 8th January, 1997. As agreement could not be reached the parties requested referral to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 15th May, 1997, the earliest date suitable to the parties. The parties informed the Court that agreement had been reached on the issue of the lunch allowance.
3. 1. Car insurance:- The 1994 Agreement on Integration, Transferability, Re-location and Staffing Levels states that the Company will refund car insurance separately from car allowances. The Company's letter of 24th June, 1994, instructs one worker to pay his premium and to forward his receipt to the Finance Department for a refund. Neither document states that open drive cover will not be refunded by the Company. Both employees received full refunds of their car insurance in 1994 and in 1995. The Company is attempting to alter the terms of the 1994 Agreement without discussion or negotiation. The employees concerned should be refunded their 1996 insurance premia as per agreed procedures.
2. Car park space:- The long-standing practice (since 1969) of allocating nine car park spaces to union members on a seniority basis should not be discontinued. The increasing pressure on spaces is caused by the doubling of management spaces from 40 to 80 spaces in the past three years. The Union agreed to transfer its spaces to adjacent car parking facilities to facilitate Management. It would not be feasible to buy-out the nine spaces as they are held in perpetuity for all 200 union members.
4. 1. Car insurance:- The Company's position on premium refunds is long established and is accepted by both company car holders and car allowance holders who are treated equally. The Union is seeking to institutionalise an error made in 1994 from which both employees benefited. Concession of the Union's claim would force the Company to treat the staff concerned more favourably than the 55 other recipients of car allowance benefit and could lead to knock-on claims.
2. Car park space:- In 1969/'70 it was agreed to allow union members the use of nine car park spaces as they were surplus to the Company's requirements. It was never intended to be a cost to the Company and the 1994 Agreement specified that the parking issue would be reviewed when the Claims Department returned to Wolfe Tone House. In order to reduce costs and to ensure future competitiveness it is necessary to enter into negotiations regarding a buy-out of the spaces concerned.
The Court has considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their oral and written submissions.
The Court finds as follows:-
(1)Payment of Lunch Allowances: -
The Court notes that the parties have reached agreement on this issue in terms acceptable to the Union.
(2)Car Insurance: -
The Court finds that there were guidelines in respect of the payment of insurance premiums. Also, that the parties through the 1994 agreement, sought to harmonise terms and conditions of employment. Given all the circumstances the Court recommends that the premium including open driving be refunded to the two employees here concerned for 1994, 1995 and 1996 and that the refund from 1997 be in accordance with the terms outlined in the memorandum of 30th November, 1995.
(3)Car Parking: -
The Court recommends that the parties enter into meaningful negotiations on this issue as soon as possible.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.