INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Travel Expenses.
2. The dispute concerns 13 workers - 4 security officers and 9 computer operators. The workers are obliged to travel to work outside normal hours, whether shift work or emergency call-outs. Up to October 1996, the workers claimed and received mileage expenses tax free. In late 1996, the Bank was informed by the Revenue Commissioners that payment of travelling expenses must be subject to tax. During discussions between the parties, the Union asked that the mileage payments be grossed-up to compensate for the tax deductions. The Bank refused, and offered a total buy-out of all travelling expenses to and from work. The offer was rejected by the Union.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 24th of June 1997. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 19th of November, 1997, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 15th of January, 1998.
3. 1. The mileage allowance not only covered mileage but also wear and tear, tax and insurance on individual vehicles. Alternative arrangements such as the use of taxis would be far more costly to the Bank. There would also be the problem of reliability with regard to taxis if security officers were required in an emergency. The workers
concerned provide a vital quality service during unsocial hours. In a similiar situation with a TSB Bank, management agreed to increase payments for a call-out allowance which was subjected to taxation. As part of a concession to certain employees, mainly
managerial, the Bank pays their membership fees in golf clubs. When these payments were taxed some years ago, the Bank substantially adjusted the payment to offset taxation. This is a clear precedent within the Bank.
4. 1. The Bank has no choice but to comply with the Revenue Commissioner. The Union accepts that the tax must be paid on the travelling expenses. Paying people to get to and from work is no longer justifiable, given the improvement in both the terms and conditions of employment, and the improvements in public transport. The actual amount earned by the workers is quite low with one exception. Nine of the 13 employees have their own transport. In addition, the workers receive a significant shift allowance for working unsociable hours as well as a lump sum for call-out allowance. The Union should negotiate a buy-out.
The Court is satisfied that the question of reimbursement of taxation of benefits is not a position it can sustain. The Court does not, therefore, recommend concession of the Union's claim on this issue.
On the Company's aspiration to buy out the allowance, the Court views this as a matter for the parties.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th January, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.