INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
2. In 1992 the Unions lodged a pay claim with the Corporation in accordance with Clause 3 of the P.E.S.P. The claim was on behalf of 2,600 General Operatives employed by the Corporation. On the 17th January, 1995 the Corporation issued a comprehensive document setting out its restructuring package in return for payment of the claim submitted by the Unions. The claim is now being dealt with in accordance with Clause 2(iii) of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW).
The Corporation is proposing to replace the current 39 pay differentials covering 300 job descriptions with 5 new pay groups which will enable it become more competitive. It is proposed that the restructuring be accepted in order to secure, in the medium and long term, a viable direct labour operation which will give the Corporation a flexible and competitive workforce and enable it to compete for contract work.
The Unions have no objection in principle to the proposed restructuring. However, they consider that it is not possible to compress the existing structure of 39 pay differentials into 5 new pay groups as it would not provide sufficient flexibility for the workforce. In addition, the changes proposed by the Corporation are considered excessive in relation to the financial rewards being offered.
The restructuring package is comprehensive and wide-ranging but the main elements in it are:
(a) reduction in the number of pay-groups from 39 to 5,
(b) all operatives to be multi-functional and multi-skilled within their pay-group,
(c) full mobility within departments or divisions and deployment from one department or division to another,
(d) all future promotion posts to be filled by interview open to all Corporation staff, i.e. seniority not to be the deciding factor,
(e) pay increases ranging from a minimum of £10 per week, inclusive of travel time, to a maximum of over £20 per week (1% was paid on account from the 1st of April, 1994),
(f) travel time to be paid on annual leave,
(g) improvements in sick pay scheme,
(h) 3 days' Christmas leave.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. The Commission appointed a Rights Commissioner to function as a "Facilitator" to assist the parties in refining the restructuring package with a view to making it acceptable to all concerned.
The "Facilitator" submitted his recommendation to both sides but it was subsequently rejected by the Unions. The dispute was then referred to the Conciliation Service of the Labour Relations Commission. Conciliation conferences were held on the 8th of November, 1996, the 13th of November, 1996 and the 27th of November, 1996 but agreement was not reached.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 10th of January, 1997.
3. 1. The Unions are concerned about the possible loss of jobs/posts following the restructuring programme.
2. The changes sought by the Corporation are excessive in the light of the financial rewards on offer.
3. There should be additional pay groups over and above those proposed in the restructuring plan.
4. The straight pay increase (without travel allowance) on offer is £10.00 per week which is unacceptable and should be increased to at least £14.00 per week.
5. The pay increases on offer for restructuring vary considerably across the various sections. The increases should be the same for all.
6. The Corporation cannot expect to move overnight from a 39 grade structure to a 5 grade structure. A number of groups or individuals should be "red circled" in their current posts for a transitional period.
7. There should be a "Disputes Panel" set up to deal with any grievances expeditiously in relation to mobility or assignment to different work.
4. 1. The proposal to substitute the current 39 pay differentials with 5 new pay groups is sacrosanct. It is essential that the new structures be accepted.
2. The restructuring package is the way forward to secure , in the medium and long term, a direct labour operation which will enable the Corporation to bid for contract work.
3. The concept of the group structure must be that all operatives be flexible and multi-functioning. This has been accepted by the Trade Unions.
4. The cost of the restructuring package is approximately £2m plus a further £0.25m in travel time. In addition, a "once off" payment to employees will cost a further £0.75m.
5. The financial package on offer will extend the Corporation's finances to the limit.
Both parties in this dispute clearly recognise the need to restructure and rationalise the general operative workforce if the services of the Corporation are to be delivered in the most effective and cost efficient manner, and if the direct labour force is to be competitive and be in a position to survive external market forces and thus fully protect and secure continued direct employment.
The Court has considered the issues raised and has noted the proposals put forward by the Corporation and the amendments made by the facilitator. The Court considers there were issues which needed to be considered further and certain matters which required clarification.
In the following paragraphs the Court seeks to address and clarify those issues.
1.Pay- 1.1 The Court finds there are grounds to merit that those on the minimum rates of pay proposed should have some improvement in the offer currently being made. However in dealing with this aspect the Court is conscious of the financial constraints on the Corporation and the limitations on resources available. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the increase of £10 should apply as a minimum on implementation but that this figure should be increased to £12 per week with effect from the anniversary date of the implementation of the proposals.
1.2 The Court has noted that the facilitator has recommended a lead-in payment of £300 per person in respect of the implementation of the Agreement also that 1% has already been paid with effect from 1 April 1994. The Court does not recommend any change in these payments.
1.3 Services Allowances - The Court notes the proposals regarding these allowances. The Court considers the nature of this work is such that to deny payment to others carrying out the work would be anomolous. The Court notes that with changes in technology etc. the incidence of this work will reduce. The Court recommends that for the present employees while undertaking this work should be paid the allowance. The allowance as per the Corporation proposals should be frozen at its current rate.
2.Group Structures- The Court recommends that the proposed group structure be amended by the retention of the Transitional Group and that employees, after 2 years experience and subject to satisfactory service, should automatically progress to the Transitional Group scale. The two years referred to above to apply with effect from the date of implementation of the proposals.
3.Salary Scales- The Court recommends that the proposed salary scales based on a period of 7 years (8 points) be reduced to a period of 5 years (6 points).
4.Manning Levels- The Court notes the manning level anticipated and the reductions in staff proposed as a consequence of these proposals. The Court recommends that, in the event that in the future further reductions in staff are envisaged, these should be discussed and agreed between the parties.
5.Red Circling- The Court recognises that the proposals require certain employees to relinquish grades and jobs in certain cases, and that this gives rise to uncertainty among the employees concerned. The Court, having considered the views of the unions in this regard, has come to the view that red circling would not be the most appropriate manner in which to deal with the issue. The Court recommends, therefore, that the workers here concerned should be guaranteed that they would be given work commensurate with the dignity of their current status and consistent with the duties of the group to which they are assigned including the arrangements regarding Indoor and Outdoor work as submitted to the Labour Relations Commission by the Corporation. The Court considers that the creation of a number of posts at Group 4 level and arrangements for recruitment of Clerical Officers from General Operatives, will assist to alleviate the fears of these employees.
6.Public Lighting- The Court notes the views expressed by the unions regarding the reduction in promotional outlets. Clarification of the proposals of the Corporation indicated that there are approximately 22 promotions proposed in this area, 4 posts at Group 4 level, and 18 posts at Group 3 level.
7.Housing- The Court accepts the views expressed by the unions that, in allocating the traditional general operative duties and the non core work devolved from the crafts, the level of skill and consequently the job satisfaction for the workers concerned should be enhanced as far as possible. The Court recommends that the duties as proposed by the Corporation be accepted and implemented in the first instance and that the parties monitor the work and review it after 12 months with the objective of
seeking to enhance the quality of the duties required to be undertaken.
8.Waterworks- It is clear to the Court that following acceptance of the proposals a period of approximately 12 to 18 months will be required for a smooth transition to the new operating procedures. It is recommended that, where there is a necessity for the redeployment of staff as a consequence of staff being surplus to requirements in this department, this will be carried out in consultation and discussion with the unions. In regard to staff and proposals in relation to the depot at Ballymore Eustace, the Court notes that the major issues in dispute including the question of redeployment have been resolved. Any other issues which may arise, the Court notes, will be dealt with in local discussions.
9.Cleansing- The Court notes the views expressed by the unions regarding the proposals in this department. The Court, recommends that the proposals in the package be accepted and that any other outstanding issues relating to arrangements in the Cleansing Department be dealt with at local level.
10.Driving- The Court recommends that all remaining drivers (approximately 140) be allocated to group 2 (subject to their accepting the liability to carry out such work as may be required under the group 2 job description). The Court notes that the Corporation will take a realistic approach regarding the nature of the work to be allocated to the workers here concerned in the event of driving work not being available. Further, the Court notes that the Corporation guarantee that any driving duties required will be allocated in the first instance to existing drivers.
New recruits will be allocated to group 1.
11.Outside Contractors- One of the objectives of the restructuring and rationalisation of the workforce is to ensure that the direct labour workforce is competitive and able to survive the threat of the external market. This being the case, and given the co-operation of the workforce, the necessity for the use of outside contractors for the delivery of day to day services should be reduced, following implementation of the package.
In the interest of the continued development of relations and goodwill between the management and workforce both parties should agree procedures for the introduction of outside contractors. Discussions to this end should be initiated as soon as possible.
The package should be implemented as soon as possible and the progress of transition to the new arrangements monitored. Any difficulties arising should be rectified without delay or dealt with in accordance with the procedures referred to below.
The package of proposals for consideration by all concerned are the Corporation proposals together with the recommendation of the facilitator both as amended and clarified by this recommendation. The Court would point out that acceptance of the package is but a first step.
Successful implementation of the package will require the co-operation of all concerned in a spirit of goodwill.
All employees should be made aware of the implications of the changes insofar as they are individually concerned.
Management must be clear as to their role and it must be emphasised to all line management that the restructuring and rationalisation will only be successful if the co-operation of the employees is secured and if a realistic approach is adopted when allocating duties under the proposals. The Court considers there is a need for effective training of line management to this end.
The Court recommends that, to assist smooth implementation of the changes a Disputes Panel be established representative of management and employees. The Panel should oversee the implementation of the package and address any difficulties which may arise. In the event of any difficulty arising the Panel should address the issue as quickly as possible and seek to resolve the matter within a period of one week. While the issue is under consideration by the Disputes Panel the work shall be carried out, as instructed, under protest.
The Court requests that the parties recommend the above to their constituents for acceptance.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th February, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.