INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
AN BORD TRACHTALA
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Claim for upgrading of a worker.
2. The dispute concerns one worker who is seeking upgrading from Grade 6 (Marketing Advisor), to Grade 7 (Section Manager). The worker joined the Irish Goods Council (IGC) in 1980, as an Industrial Officer, and held various positions therein prior to the Council's merger, in 1991, with Coras Trachtala (CTT) to form An Bord Trachtala (ABT). The Union claims that the worker should have been slotted into ABT at Grade 7, given his management responsibilities at the time, his job-description and the fact that he was at the top of his scale.
A general job-evaluation process agreed by Unions and management was carried out in 1997. While the worker had expressed reservations about whether, in light of the historical elements of his case, it was appropriate to a job-evaluation, such an evaluation was carried out which concluded that he was properly graded at Grade 6. This conclusion was upheld on appeal. The matter was, subsequently, the subject of a conciliation conference, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, following which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 31st of August, 1998, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation, on the 4th of December, 1998, the earliest date convenient to both parties.
1. The decision to assign the worker to Grade 6 was an arbitrary one. Management, without consultation, decided the "appropriate" grade based on the salary point of the worker at the time of the merger, thereby, completely disregarding the job-contract and managerial responsibilities involved.
2. There seems to have been no regard to the fact that the APO/PO award due to the worker, when applied, would significantly shift the maximum salary point and, therefore, render Grade 6 assimilation inappropriate. In addition, certain allowances in the IGC had been paid on a tax-free basis, i.e. a car allowance of £4,200 and an annual health insurance (VHI) cost of £483. In CTT staff had a taxed car allowance and no VHI allowance. In June, 1992, ex-IGC staff received an increase in salary to compensate for those losses. In the worker's case, he received £483 in respect of VHI, which put him at £300 over the grade 6 maximum point. He was further offered a special allowance in respect of the lost car allowance, of £2,111, which was to be "worked out" in the 1992 APO/PO awards. In the circumstances, he elected to remain on car-mileage with the option to revert to a taxed car allowance, subsequently. He has remained at this salary level since.
3. During his employment, as manager, in IGC the worker would have had responsibility for a number of staff, a factor that changed within the new body, by virtue of its structure and size. During the job-restructuring, the worker was advised that the level of reporting staff was a critical missing factor in respect of his case.
4. In CTT, formerly, and now, in ABT, there are no recognised differences in relation to job-content between Grade 6 and Grade 7, in the marketing area, and employees have been assigned to Grade 7 without job-change. At the time of the merger, the worker held the position of Manager, Marketing Development Services. Accordingly, it should not have been impossible to set his appropriate grade at Grade 7.
AN BORD'S ARGUMENTS:
1. Following the merger, a number of arrangements were made with ex-IGC staff regarding VHI contributions and car allowances. VHI contributions were subsumed into salaries. For a small number of staff, including the claimant, this resulted in an over-scale payment of £300. Former IGC staff who, unlike the claimant, continued to receive car allowances had the impact of taxation eased. In most cases this involved a movement within each individual's scale or salary bank. Where required, some such staff were allowed float above their scales. All such allowances over scale, including those in relation to VHI, were washed out by application of subsequent phases of public sector special pay awards. At the time of the merger the claimant chose to be paid a mileage rate in lieu of retaining his car allowance so the question of a car allowance adjustment did not arise.
2. The claimant has not been treated less favourably than other similarly graded ex-IGC staff. While there were some initial concerns after the formation of ABT, it is satisfied that the terms and conditions pertaining to the claimant and other ex-IGC staff are those which were enjoyed prior to the merger with any anomalies having being addressed by the above-mentioned adjustments.
3. The present duties carried out by the claimant are commensurate with Grade 6 and do not carry responsibility above the level of that grade. Furthermore, promotion is based on merit and is subject to open competition. The claimant has participated in such competitions, most recently in one for upgrade from Grade 6 to Grade 7. He has not been successful. To deviate from the open competition scenario on an ad hoc basis would lead to repercussive claims both from other employees on Grade 6 and other grades.
4. The claimant was part of an extensive open competition for all Grade 6s to upgrade to Grade 7 in late 1997 and out of a pool of 31 there were 4 upgrades and he did not receive one.
5. A revision of the job-evaluation process, in conjunction with SIPTU, was underway at the time of the merger. It was agreed with the claimant's representatives that this process was an appropriate way to resolve his grading issue. The revised process was used. This involved scoring a job-description drawn up in conjunction with the claimant to reflect his role at the time of the merger. The evaluation results did not justify upgrading to Grade 7.
6. ABT is satisfied that, following the merger, it fulfilled its obligation to protect the status of its employees. All employees were graded according to the same criteria, with any financial loss being compensated for. ABT believes that, as the claimant's role remained unchanged after the merger, its decision not to alter his grade was fair and reasonable and this is supported by the outcome of the job-evaluation.
The Union contends that this particular employee was wrongly graded when the Irish Goods Council and Coras Trachtala merged in September, 1991. Bearing in mind the various methods used to examine this case and the results thereof, and also the explanation for his present salary, the Court believes that designation of Grade 7 is not warranted in this case.
However, if special pay arrangements apply to the claimant which bring him above the maximum of Grade 6, these should be maintained in future.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd December, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.