INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Dispute concerning the rate of pay of a worker.
2. Prior to 1988 the worker concerned was employed as a Laboratory Assistant in Eolas. In 1988, he moved to the National Food Centre in An Foras Taluntais (which later became Teagasc) and was placed on a personal scale - Points 4 to 9 of the technicians' scale, which has eleven points. The Union claims that the worker should be allowed to progress to the top of the technicians' scale and that he should be paid two increments to achieve this. The Union's claim is made on the basis that the work of the claimant has changed substantially over the past number of years and that he has a higher level of responsibility. Management rejected the claim on the grounds that the worker was not a qualified technician. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 5th June, 1997. Agreement was not reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 10th of July, 1998. A Court hearing was held on the 31st August, 1998.
3. 1. The worker's job description for his original position in the Food Process Centre in an Foras Taluntais shows that a clear enhancement of his skills and level of responsibility has occurred since his transfer. The sample throughput has increased by at least 10% this year and the amount and complexity of work in the micro-biological section has increased accordingly. The Microbiology Laboratory has an annual turnover of approximately £170,000, one of the highest in Teagasc. The worker has made a contribution to the improved financial position of the section.
2. The worker's duties are at a level that would normally be undertaken by a technician. The appropriate rate of pay for the duties which the worker undertakes is that which applies to the technicians' scale. On transfer to Teagasc the worker did not receive the full technician rate. Teagasc has benefited financially because it has not progressed the worker to a rate of pay equivalent to the full technicians' scale.
3. It is normal practice that incremental movement within a scale is not considered as cost- increasing for the purpose of national agreements. Any additional costs involved have been more than covered by the increased income to Teagasc from the worker's activities.
4. The worker should progress the final two points of his personal scale on the clear understanding that he is outside the technical grade. His next increment would apply from the 1st April, 1997 and the final increment from 1st April, 1998.
4. 1. In 1983 an agreement was reached with another union, which represents the vast majority of research technicians, that a recognised third level qualification i.e. NCEA Diploma or its equivalent was required for a research technician post. This minimum educational qualification is regarded by both parties as being very important in maintaining the very highest professional standards and excellence in the Authority's research programmes. While the Authority accepts that the employee's work is of the highest standard he does not possess a third level qualification, and to concede the claim would create an undesirable precedent.
2. The claimant will benefit from the appropriate adjustment to his personal scale when agreement is reached on a Restructuring Agreement (under Clause 2(iii) of the P.C.W.) for Research Technicians. They are seeking a similar agreement to that negotiated for Laboratory Technicians in the Civil Service (i.e. 5.5% to 10.5% on the 1st June, 1997 pay scales). This would provide the claimant with a very substantial increase in his salary.
3. Any additional concessions to the claimant would be cost-increasing and would have to be accommodated within the provisions of Partnership 2000. In this regard, the 2% which may be payable as a result of local bargaining is not intended to be used for cases such as this.
It is accepted by the Employer that the claimant operates in his job to a very high level of skill and competence, acquired over a number of years.
However, it is argued that due to his not having the necessary qualification he cannot be promoted to the Research Technician salary scale.
The Union made it clear it was not arguing against the qualification requirement but that acknowledgement should be shown of the claimant's level of skills and the additional responsibilities he had taken on since moving to this post.
The Court accepts the explanation for not moving the claimant on to the Research Technician Scale but recommends that, in the absence of any mechanism to reward him for taking on the extra responsibilities, he be given an extra increment to be paid from 1st August, 1997, and a half an increment from 1st August, 1998.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th September, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.