INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
GALWAY ASSOCIATION FOR THE MENTALLY HANDICAPPED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Annual leave entitlements for instructors.
2. The Galway Country Association for Mentally Handicapped Children was established in 1962 as a voluntary organisation to cater for the needs of a group of children with a mental handicap, in Galway city. Since that time it has grown steadily and now provides services to approximately 370 children and adults and employs over 200 staff. It is funded largely by the Western Health Board but maintains a large voluntary element through its Parent and Friends network, in 47 branches spread throughout the County. The dispute concerns the issue of the annual leave entitlement of 3 of the Association's instructors.
Following the conclusion of an agreement between the parties in relation to parity of the Association's instructors with their counterparts in the Western Health Board, it was the Union's understanding that the agreement related to pay only and that there would be no change in the annual leave entitlement of instructors. The Association's position was that the agreement was for parity in all matters with the Western Health Board, including annual leave. Accordingly, the annual leave entitlement of instructors recruited after the 1st of September, 1995, would be 25 days, with existing instructors red-circled at 30 days.
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 20th of September, 1996, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute, in Galway, on the 26th of February, 1997.
3. 1. The Association's proposal to reduce the annual leave entitlement of new recruits represents a reneging by the Association on the agreement reached with the Union in July, 1995, that the annual leave of the instructors would remain unchanged. The instructors would not have settled the pay dispute on the basis of a claw-back of the annual leave entitlement.
2. Instructors employed by the Association have a demanding and challenging role. They have always held the view that the 30 days' leave entitlement is an implicit acknowledgement of their difficult jobs.
3. The reduction to 25 days represents a tangible loss in income for the workers involved (details supplied to the Court).
4. The instructors enjoy far less flexibility than their counterparts in the Western Health Board. Annual leave in the Board is by mutual agreement whereas annual leave with the Association must coincide with centre closures. The only discretion extended to the Association's instructors is one day per year.
5. The Association always knew that any adjustments to annual leave for existing or future staff would be unacceptable, given the background to the dispute.
4. 1. In June, 1995, the association agreed to implement parity of the pay scale with the scale in the Western Health Board. In the Association's letter of confirmation, it was indicated that further discussions were necessary regarding annual leave entitlement, etc. Subsequently the Association began recruiting new instructors. The annual leave for the posts advertised was set at 25 days. Those offered posts were aware that the matter was in dispute and accepted contracts of employment based on an annual leave entitlement of 25 days. In November, 1995, the instructors employed pre-September, 1995 were advised that their annual leave of 30 days would be red-circled.
2. The annual leave entitlement of 25 days is considerably more favourable than that at a number of similar organisations (details supplied to the Court).
3. Management of the Galway Association feels that it dealt with this matter in a very fair and reasonable manner by virtue of the fact that instructors who were employed pre-September, 1995 retain 30 days' annual leave and those employed post-September, 1995 have 25 days' annual leave. On the basis that both these annual leave amounts are in excess of the Western Health Board entitlement, the Union's claim is considered to be unreasonable.
The Court, given all the circumstances of this case, finds that the proposed change in leave for new employees has not been handled in a satisfactory manner. The Court, therefore, recommends that all instructors employed should have 30 days' annual leave applied to them.
Any change required by the Association should be discussed with the Union through the normal industrial relations procedures, together with any other issues which require attention.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th of March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.