INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. The inclusion of week-end allowance for pension purposes.
2. The dispute concerns a claim, on behalf of general attendants, for the incorporation of their week-end allowance into their pension entitlements. The group of workers in question provide cover every weekend, on a rota basis. The current liability for each worker is to work 24 Saturdays and 20 Sundays per year and the value of the weekend allowances is £12.75 for Saturdays and £21.08 for Sundays. The claim was rejected by the College on the grounds that the only allowances which can be included for pension purposes are those payable every week of the year.
The dispute was the subject of conciliation conferences, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. In June, 1996, the Governing Body of the College had accepted the claim, subject to the approval of the Higher Education Authority (HEA). In early 1997, the Departments of Education and Science, and Finance rejected the claim on the grounds that is concession would be in breach of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work and advised the HEA accordingly. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 20th of October, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation, in Cork, on the 1st of April, 1998, the earliest offered date convenient to both parties.
3. 1. Rostered week-end work is a feature of working life for General Attendant staff. The allowance is also a permanent feature of their work and does not fluctuate. The claim that the week-end allowances should be reflected in the pension scheme is not unreasonable, given the compulsory nature of the service that is required. It follows, therefore, that this is a permanent allowance and should be reflected in the pension scheme. Under the College's pension scheme provisions, salary shall be deemed to include allowances which are in the nature of pay rather than in the nature of recoupment of expenses, such as shift premium payments, supervisory allowances, driving allowances, allowances or payments for additional duties or appointments, and any other similar allowances provided that they are of a permanent nature.
2. This matter is not without precedence in that the week-end allowances were incorporated into the pay of the Supervisors six years ago, and as a result now qualify for pension purposes.
3. There is an element of unsociable hours attached to providing week-end cover and after a lifetime of being available to provide this service, it is not acceptable that the allowances are not considered for pension purposes.
4. Agreement has already been reached between the Union and management, with the approval of the Governing Body of UCC, concerning this dispute.
4. 1. The General Attendants have received one special pay award of £16.04 and, therefore, the claim by the Union is in breach of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work in that it is for a further cost-increasing award. While the Union might claim that Section 4 of the Appendix to the PCW appears to allow for this type of claim outside the terms of Clause 2 of that Appendix, the Departments of Education and Science, and Finance have indicated that Section 4 does not apply to the public sector insofar as the College Pension Scheme is concerned.
2. The claim is not consistent with the College Pension Scheme provisions on parameters governing pensionable salary, i.e., they are not permanent allowances.
3. Concession of claim could have repercussive effects within the College and within the wider public service. The College operates a non-contributory pension scheme and, accordingly, all costs would have to be borne by the College. Additionally, the cost impacts would have early effect, having regard to the age profile in the General Attendant section.
4. Partnership 2000, the current pay agreement, also provides that, as far the public service is concerned, no claim should be submitted or processed further, pending the Report of the Commission on Public Service Pensions.
The Court is satisfied that a correct interpretation of the Pension scheme allows for the inclusion of the permanent allowances paid to the claimants as remuneration for pension purposes.
The Court, accordingly, recommends concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th April, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.