INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
DRUMCONDRA EDUCATION CENTRE
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. 188/96.
2. The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation concerns a Grade 3 clerk-typist on whose behalf the Union lodged a claim that her post be upgraded to Grade V. (At present, she is being paid the maximum of the Grade III salary by the Department, with her salary being brought up to the maximum of Grade IV by the Centre).
The claim was the subject of a Rights Commissioner's investigation at which the Drumcondra Education Centre and the Union side attended. The Department of Education had requested the Centre to object to the Rights Commissioner's hearing. The Centre, instead, sought legal advice on the matter and by the time that advice had been received, the date by the which an objection to the investigation could be lodged had passed. The Rights Commissioner's investigation went ahead without the Department in attendance. The Rights Commissioner found as follows:-
"Based on the information available at the hearing it was not possible to come to a decision. Both sides were asked and undertook to submit an agreed job description for the post. The pay and grading structure of clerical administrative posts in the Drumcondra Education Centre is identical and directly linked to that of Health Boards, Local Authorities and Vocational Education Committees which, in turn, are job evaluation based. The existence of this job evaluation system, which is based on five weighted factors, provides a framework which promotes objectivity in arriving at the appropriate level for any particular post".
Those factors and weightings were applied to the worker's post by the Rights Commissioner and produced a points-rating of 267. The job-evaluation and grading system provides that posts within a points range of 200 to 274 attract a Grade V level and, accordingly, the Rights Commissioner recommended that the claimant's post be graded at level V.
The Recommendation was accepted by the Union and by the Centre. However, it was appealed by the employer side, on the 20th of August, 1997. The Court heard the appeal on the 31st of October, 1997 at which the Department, the Centre and the Union attended.
3. 1. The claim for upgrading is cost-increasing and, as such, falls to be dealt with within the terms of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) Pay Agreement. This issue was not raised with the Rights Commissioner and is not referred to in his findings.
2. The Rights Commissioner, in hearing the case, or in the course of the job-evaluation exercise, did not have full information due to the non-involvement of the Department.
3. The scheme under which the worker is employed is designed for general application. Funding is provided by the Department on the basis that posts established under the scheme will be full-time clerical in nature, and related to administration. For guidance of employing authorities, a list of duties appropriate to the post of clerk-typist is provided. A memorandum on the conditions of service which must be applied in all cases is also provided by the Department whose view it is that this post and a large number of posts in the grade in National and Secondary schools are subject to the general terms/conditions of the published scheme. On this basis, therefore, the issues affecting the grading of the worker's post cannot be considered separately to the general scheme under which the group as a whole is employed.
4. Negotiations in relation to the possible future re-structuring of posts established under this scheme and other analogous posts in Vocational Educational Committees, Community and Comprehensive Schools have just been concluded under the terms of the PCW. The claim in this case is properly one for consideration in the context of these discussions. The proposals which have emerged from these negotiations include, inter alia, proposals for the upgrading of certain Grade IIIs to Grade IVs, which might provide a basis for resolving this case.
5. The difference in salary between Grade III and Grade IV, which is being paid by the Centre, is non-pensionable and not subject to superannuation deductions but is subject to normal tax and PRSI deductions. The present payment situation does not conform with the terms of the scheme under which the worker's post has been sanctioned.
4. 1. The Department of Education did not attend the Rights Commissioner's investigation nor did it indicate any objection to the investigation taking place. The employer was present at the hearing and answered all questions raised by the Rights Commissioner who was satisfied that he could deal with the matter through the process of job-evaluation.
2. The job-evaluation carried out required a detailed questionnaire to be completed by the worker. This was to be followed up by a visit to the Centre by the Rights Commissioner, if required. His findings include the scores set out under the various headings provided for in the job-evaluation scheme used. The scheme is identical to that used in Local Authorities and Health Boards. The Rights Commissioner was a member of the working party who drew up the scheme and is an expert in its use.
3. The re-grading of individual posts is not unusual and has occurred during the lifetime of all previous national agreements.
4. Currently, the worker is paid as a Grade III, Clerical Officer, with the difference in pay between Grade III and Grade IV being paid to her by the Centre. The actual arrangement for the payment of the Grade V salary to her is a matter for the Centre and the Department. It is not a feature of the evaluation and has no bearing on the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
Notwithstanding the peculiar circumstances surrounding the role of the Department of Education in this appeal, the Court is of the view that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation should be amended, as follows:-
(a) The claimant be upgraded to Grade IV from date of claim.
(b) Both parties agree to an independent job-evaluation to ascertain whether Grade V is the more appropriate ranking.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th of November, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.