INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DUCHAS, DEPARTMENT OF ARTS, HERITAGE, GAELTACHT & THE ISLANDS
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Dispute concerning the introduction of time clocks.
2. The dispute relates to a proposal by Management to introduce Time Clocks for 10 workers employed at Kilkenny Castle. The workers have refused to agree to its introduction. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 17th June, 1998. Agreement could be not be reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 10th July, 1998.
A Court hearing was held on the 26th November, 1998 the earliest date suitable to the parties.
1. As part of an overall productivity agreement reached in 1994 specific conditions were agreed in relation to "clocking in". The agreement provided that this measure would only be implemented in the event of any abuse of the signing in system. This has not occurred.
2. There is a fully functional totally adequate signing in system in operation for the past twenty-five years. It is an adequate system which has not been abused and Management has, at no time, complained that there have been any difficulties or abuses of the system.
3. Management's insistence on the introduction of time clocks is unwarranted, unnecessary and in direct contravention of relevant agreements. Workers are proud of their punctuality and attendance records and feel very strongly that the present signing in system should be retained.
1. Time clocks are the standard method of recording hours at many work centres throughout the Heritage Service and is the norm throughout Government Departments. Management is merely seeking to standardise recording systems. The use of time clocks was the subject of a long standing agreement negotiated with all the unions represented at the National Joint Industrial Council in 1976. That agreement is in force and has not been repudiated. It provided "for the introduction of time clocks where feasible at main reporting points".
2. The Department accepts that there are no formal problems associated with time keeping and attendance under the signing in system. This is not Management's motive for introducing time clocks. Presently time clocks are used by 3 of the 13 permanent staff at Kilkenny Castle and by all the seasonal staff. Only the workers concerned insist on recording their attendance on time books. Time books are an anachronism in the present age.
The Court acknowledges the employer's reasons for wishing to introduce a clocking-in system to replace the signing in which has been in operation for the past twenty five years. At the same time the Court understands the concerns of the claimants who were requested without any prior notification or explanation, to use the new system. One of their main concerns is their fear that the system will be used for purposes other than the recording of starting and finishing times of work.
The Court views the introduction of a time clock as a more modern system than the older out-of-date system of signing in. It appears to the Court that this dispute has primarily arisen as a result of the failure by management to communicate with the employees before introducing the new system.
Therefore, the Court recommends that the clocking in system should be operated by all employees with effect from 4th January, 1999. In recognition of the claimants concerns the Court recommends that if in future the clocking-in system is used for any other reason than the recording of starting and finishing times, then the proposed changes must be discussed with all parties concerned.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th December, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.