INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
BUS ATHA CLIATH
- AND -
NATIONAL BUS & RAIL UNION (NBRU)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Alleged refusal by the Company to accord negotiating rights to the Union on behalf of some clerical staff.
2. The claim before the Court concerns an application by the Union for negotiating rights on behalf of some clerical staff in the Company. The Union claims that it was approached by clerical staff in 1994 following agreement on restructuring regarding the feasibility of establishing a clerical branch within the Union. The ICTU group of unions are objecting to the Union's application for negotiating rights on behalf of clerical staff.
The Company also rejects the Union's claim for negotiating rights for some of the clerical staff (15) on the basis that a majority of the clerical staff are already represented by either the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) or Services Industrial Professional Technical Union (SIPTU). It cannot see any benefit in having further trade union representation for this grade.
The Union claims that there were similar obstacles in 1979 and subsequently when it sought negotiating rights which were granted on behalf of Locomotive Drivers and other grades such as Guards, Ticket Checkers, Depot Staff etc. and it cannot understand the Company's opposition to its application for negotiating rights on behalf of some employees in the clerical grades.
The dispute was referred by the Union to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. The Court investigated the dispute on the 11th August, 1997.
3. 1. The Union has sought to resolve the problem of negotiating rights in a logical and peaceful manner.
2. The Union rejects the Company's claim that there is too much union representation in the clerical grades.
3. Similar arguments were made by the Company when the Union sought representation on behalf of railway workers in 1979. This representation was subsequently granted.
4. The workers concerned are entitled under the International Labour Organisation Convention to freedom of association and should not be compelled to become members of a particular union.
5. The clerical staff concerned no longer wish to be represented by the ICTU group of unions and should be allowed to join the union of their choice.
4. 1. The ICTU group of unions, TSSA and SIPTU, represents the vast majority of clerical staff in the Company. The interests of all within the grade are adequately catered for by the present arrangements.
2. The impetus in the 1990 Industrial Relations Legislation is towards Trade Union rationalisation to encourage mergers between unions and to discourage the formation of breakaway unions.
3. The Company has no objection to NBRU representing their members on a individual basis and has afforded the Union the facility of Trade Union deduction from payroll for their clerical members.
4. Both TSSA and SIPTU negotiate on behalf of clerical staff in the Company which is a long standing formal agreement and they are not prepared to negotiate in conjunction with any other Trade Union.
5. The NBRU only represent about 13% of the clerical staff. Since 1994, the number of staff has decreased from 23 to 15.
It is clear that the Company has an agreement with a number of Unions giving them the negotiating rights on behalf of the Clerical Staff. It also has an aspiration to limit the number of Unions representing a particular grade.
The Union argued that similar positions existed in the past but eventually it was agreed that it could represent other workers e.g. guards, depot staff etc.
The Company concern in relation to a transferring of members from one union to another if dissatisfied with representation, is a valid one, particularly as no agreement exists on transfer of members to cover this current problem.
On the other hand the Company has accepted a situation in which it takes a deduction from payroll for those employees, and allows representation on an individual basis.
The Court having considered carefully all aspects of this case, and taking into account the history of inter union difficulties, does not concede the claim.
The Court is of the view that the way forward is for the NBRU to meet with the other unions to seek to reach an agreement on accommodating each others needs on this matter.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
2nd September, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.