INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES BOARD)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning the Wandering Animals Collection Service.
2. Since 1987 the Corporation has operated a crew of workers whose duties are to collect stray animals, horses mainly, for impoundment, from public open spaces and roads within the Borough. With the introduction of new legislation in this area, Local Authorities have been granted wider powers and more stringent enforcement procedures. The Corporation has decided, on safety grounds, to disband its service and use private contractors. Management proposes to redeploy the crew to other duties and has proposed compensation for loss of earnings as follows:-
1. Telephone Rental Allowance 1 years loss of allowance
2. Wandering Animals Crew
Allowance - £15 per week 2 years loss of allowance
3. Overtime of 6 hours per week To be negotiated
The Unions rejected the proposals. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission, and a conciliation conference was held on the 8th of December, 1997. Agreement was not possible and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 13th of January, 1998. A Court hearing was held in Limerick on the 17th February, 1998.
3. 1. The workers concerned have considerable experience in the duties of impounding wandering animals. They have made a significant impact in this area over many years and have successfully resisted bullying and harassment.
2. The new legislation will offer even more protection to the workers than heretofore. The Corporation's claim that it wants to disband the crew for fear of their safety is therefore not justified.
3. The Corporation has used private contractors to impound stray horses in the past. Despite the fact that the workers concerned were not involved, nevertheless blame was apportioned to them. The crew will always be associated with the impounding of stray horses in the city.
4. The workers were very effective in carrying out their duties, they wish to continue to do the job at which they have considerable knowledge and experience.
4. 1. The work of the Wandering Animals Crew is stressful and dangerous. Staff are subject to constant abuse and sometimes to threats of physical violence. One worker subject to such a threat, sought and was granted, redeployment. The Corporation contends that workers cannot be protected fully against such intimidation and, therefore, the service should be privatised.
2. The crew members live in the same areas or close by the areas where the owners of the offending horses mainly reside and where the horses are allowed to roam. The only way that the Corporation could provide satisfactory security to the crew and their families would be to provide them with round the clock protection. This is not feasible.
3. The enforcement of stringent new legislation is likely to provoke violent reactions from some horse owners affected against the workers associated with enforcement. The Corporation has no alternative but to give the enforcement work, with its much increased danger, to a specialised security firm, which is based far away from the city.
4. The Corporation will not save money on direct costs by reorganising the service. It is prepared to compensate workers for the loss of allowances and to negotiate compensation for loss of overtime.
A significant factor influencing the Unions' opposition to the disbandment of the Wandering Animals Crew, is the effect which it will have on the future level of earnings of those to be re-deployed. The Court is not satisfied that this matter has been adequately addressed in the earlier negotiations between the parties.
The Court, therefore, recommends as follows:-
1. The Corporation should defer implementation of its proposals to reorganise
the collection service until the 1st of May, 1998.
2. In the interim periods the parties should negotiate appropriate arrangements
which will fairly address the Unions' concerns regarding potential loss of
earnings arising from re-deployment.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th February, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.