INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Key-holding allowance.
2. The dispute refers to a claim by the Union for a key-holding allowance. There are currently seven full-time library assistants and two job-sharing assistants employed in the College's book repository in Santry, including one Supervisor.
The Union's claim concerns one library assistant, usually the Supervisor, having to carry keys to admit access to reading rooms in the repository. A new building (phase 4) which is part of the repository has recently been completed but has not yet opened. A second assistant carries keys in the absence of the Supervisor. The Union is also concerned at its members having to bring keys home with them. The Union claims that carrying keys is not part of a library assistant's duties but is proper to the grade of library guard. The Union is seeking a key-holding allowance for the Supervisor, and an allowance to be shared by the assistants who agree to hold keys.
The College's view is that key-holding has always been part of the Supervisors duties - the Supervisor was appointed in December, 1980 - and that no claim for an allowance was made until recently. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. At a conciliation conference, the College stated that it would be prepared to pay a small allowance to any assistant who carried keys during the absence of the Supervisor, but it was not prepared to pay the Supervisor an allowance.
The issue is part of a broader discussion between the parties of a proposed restructuring in the library. The discussion is in the context of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) Clause 2(iii).
As the parties did not reach agreement at the conciliation conference, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 9th of April, 1998, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 26th of May, 1998.
3. 1. The carrying of keys is not a library assistant's function. This is normally part of the duties of a library guard. There is no attendant or security officer attached to the book repository. The new building (phase 4) will have a reading room. Staff will not move into phase 4 until the key-holding issue and staffing arrangements are sorted out. The library assistant grade at Santry is currently understaffed.
2. The duties of the Supervisor do not include key-holding and any agreement must not exclude him. The Union is prepared to accept a key-holding allowance on an interim basis until such time as somebody is appointed whose duties include key-holding e.g., a library guard.
4. 1. Carrying keys is within the range of duties expected to be carried out by a Supervisor. Therefore, the College could not be expected to pay the Supervisor concerned an allowance. The Supervisor has carried keys since his appointment in 1980 and he has not been paid, or claimed, an allowance since then. Other supervisors in the College carry keys as part of their duties. If the Supervisor concerned received a key-holding allowance, it would have a considerable knock-on effect.
2. The College has been discussing a proposed agreement for a number of changes with the Union in the context of Clause 2(iii) of the PCW. The Union has expressed no difficulty with the recognition in the agreement of the need for flexibility. This would include the issue of the Supervisor being a key-holder. The Union's threat not to move into the new building (phase 4) is in breach of the PCW and Partnership 2000.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, and noting "custom and practice" with regard to key-holders over a long period, the Court has concluded that it would not be justified in recommending concession of the Union's claim as made.
The Court recommends that the question of key-holder allowance be addressed in the context of Clause 3 of PCW discussions.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th June, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.