INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
ICTU CRAFT GROUP OF UNIONS
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Claim by the Unions for a productivity increase in pay to maintain pace with other categories.
2. The dispute concerns the Unions' claim for an increase in the basic pay of construction craft workers and operatives in Iarnr�d Eireann. Productivity negotiations in respect of this group have been ongoing for a considerable time. In April 1996, the Company put forward proposals which included a voluntary severance package requiring 42 redundancies and the substitution of contractors as an alternative to existing staff. The Company offered a 5% increase as follows:
3% as soon as the plan is accepted in total and 11 voluntary redundancies take place
2% after a further 10 voluntary redundancies are achieved
The proposal was rejected by the Unions. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 21st October, 1996. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 21st January, 1997. A Court hearing was held on the 14th March, 1997.
3. 1. The pay rates of the workers concerned are significantly lower than comparable groups within the Company and in the building industry (CIF 'downtown' rate). The Company has completed two productivity agreements with the Shop Crafts and Engineering Group. It has frustrated discussions with the workers concerned and made no serious attempt to conclude negotiations.
2. There has been a significant number of staff reductions in recent years. The Company has sought to further reduce numbers and required extra flexibility and has only offered a small wage increase in return. The Company has not filled vacancies created by retirements.
3. The Company has given work to contractors, at a lower cost to it than direct employment, thus effecting savings. These savings should be shared with the workers concerned.
4. The workers concerned are the most flexible group within the Company. However their wage levels do not reflect this. Despite previous productivity agreements the basic rates, including pay increases, would still be below the 'downtown' CIF rates.
5. The Unions' claim under Clause 3 of the PESP has not been addressed by the Company. The Unions seek this increase and an increase in the basic rates to bring them in line with the CIF 'downtown' rate on the basis of savings accrued due to reductions in staff numbers. The Unions also want further negotiations to deal with the productivity elements sought by the Company and the staff reductions since October, 1994.
4. 1. The Company previously negotiated increases in pay outside of National Wage Agreements on the basis of separate productivity agreements. Following a recent in-depth examination of Company costs this approach must be modified. The Company has experienced ever increasing competition and its financial losses are substantial.
2. The Company cannot accept the Unions' claim on the basis of comparability with other groups. Management must address the pay and other costs within the parameters of its financial capacity.
3. The Company declined the Unions' claim under the PESP because of the Unions' failure at previous negotiations to agree a basis for the generation of payroll savings. The Company maintains that any increases in pay would have to be funded out of payroll savings. Its proposals of the 19th April were based on the acceptance by the Union of a list of flexibilities and agreement on the total reduced manning levels. As the proposals were rejected by the Unions they are not now on offer. It is no longer even tenable to deal with claims on a traditional productivity basis, as the Company requires urgent cost reductions to go towards funding necessary capital investment and reducing its high debt.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, the Court recommends that, as the eleven redundancies required by the Company have been achieved, the Company should restore its offer of 3% as set out in letter of 19th April, 1996.
It is clear to the Court that events have overtaken the implementation of the further 2% offered. The Court considers this should be averted to in the context of the scheduled rationalisation talks.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.