INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
BORD GAIS EIREANN (BGE)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE
AUTOMOBILE, GENERAL ENGINEERING AND MECHANICAL OPERATIVES UNION
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
MARINE, PORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. New harmonised agreement on pay rates.
2. In April, 1997 in considering the changing climate of the natural gas industry in Ireland and abroad the Company commenced negotiations with all Unions to devise a single national agreement "Response 2000" (details supplied to the Court). At that time, Bord Gais Eireann had a comprehensive work agreement covering the Eastern region (approximately 450 staff) and a further twelve agreements covering staff in the South and headquarters (approximately 235 staff). This was a legacy of the integration of the Town Gas Utilities with the overall Bord Gais organisation. The purpose of the agreement is to set down the work practice, procedures, rates of pay and conditions of employment for all Bord Gais Eireann employees.
As part of the process HAY Management Consultants (HAY) were engaged to undertake a job evaluation and based on its findings a new eleven band salary scale is proposed to replace all current grades and accommodating all employees.
Discussions were ongoing until March, 1999 when the parties agreed to refer the matter to the Labour Relations Commission in order to progress the outstanding issues. A series of conciliation conferences took place and considerable progress was made but overall agreement was not reached and the issues in dispute were referred to the Labour Court on the 10th of September, 1999 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. Labour Court hearings took place on the 19th of October, and the 1st of November, 1999.
3. Management is seeking that all employees co-operate with the introduction of new technology including third party access to the technology. The Unions are seeking an increase in basic pay.
4. 1. Initially two different clauses covered technology and third party access. While the technology has not been a major problem, difficulty arose because the Company combined the two clauses.
2. The issue is important to the workers concerned particularly those working in the area primarily affected, clerical grades A and B. Given that these grades will have no great benefit from the Company's proposals and that there will be considerable job losses in the area the claim for an ongoing payment is justified.
3. The single database system is a stand alone issue because of its potential implications. Workers agreed to preparatory work on the system on the basis that it would not be implemented until agreement has been reached. The Union is seeking a payment of 8% for its acceptance.
4. Over 90% of MSF members have no such clause in their current agreements and there is a requirement for consultation and agreement at local level in line with current agreements.
5. In addition to computer access to contractors and suppliers the Union is now being asked to concede the issuing of materials to suppliers. This will result in the closure of the stores, the transfer of invoicing and the elimination of controls that have stood the test of time.
5. 1. The Labour Court has previously adjudicated on the issues of contracting and technology and its previous recommendation for acceptance had contributed to a stable industrial relations environment.
2. The Company has continually indicated that these clauses are immutable and central to any agreement. Without these clauses there can be no agreement and their inclusion without amendments is necessary to make the agreement work.
3. The Company recognises that not all staff gain under the salary proposals and that not all staff gain equally. The claim for an 8% payment to grades A and B clerical staff would create further inequalities. They are not the only group affected by technology and many of them will gain under the assimilation proposal and many will gain from future promotion/restructuring arising from voluntary early retirements.
6. Clause 2.4 of the agreement provides for the provision of contractors and other outside agencies for the ongoing development and efficient operation of Bord Gais Eireann . This Clause was included in the 1992 agreement for staff in the Eastern region but Unions in Cork are seeking consultation and agreement.
7. 1. The Company's position is misleading as it attempts to confuse agreements reached with MSF in respect of its members in Dublin.
2. The reference to 'Right to Veto' is an attempt to create confusion over a request by MSF that Bord Gais Eireann commits itself to good management practice in respect of out-sourcing of work and that the justification for out-sourcing be clearly defined to employees where such a decision is contemplated.
3. MSF proposed a set of standards in relation to out-sourcing which were accepted by the Company as a basis for discussion during Response 2000 negotiations but rejected for inclusion in the new agreement.
4. ATGWU's view is that negotiations in relation to contractors have not been completed and it is seeking further consultation on the matter.
8. 1. MSF and the ATGWU are seeking consultation as part of this clause. It is the Company's view that this is adequately covered by Clauses 1.3(F) and 2.6 of the Response 2000.
2. The nature of the gas industry is such that it would impose a serious impediment to the Company in the operation of its business if it was delayed in contracting out work.
3. This Clause has worked successfully in the Eastern region over the past seven years. This shows that the Company is operating in a fair and equitable manner and has no reason to change its policy on how the Clause operates.
9. The Unions are concerned about the effects of legislation in this area.
10. 1. As stated by the Company this Clause is not intended to act against the public interest. Such an assurance should form part of the agreement.
11. 1. The Company's commitment to confidentiality is governed by the Gas Act, 1976 and does not infringe on the legal rights of staff. It is the Company's view that the wording proposed meets the requirements of the Gas Act, 1976.
12. The harmonisation exercise involved the evaluation by HAY of a signification number of jobs. Based on its findings a new eleven band salary structure is proposed to replace the current 83 grades and a new bonus element for bands 2, 3 and 4. The implementation of this structure is conditional upon acceptance of a number of conditions some of which are:-
- A two year moratorium on re-grading claims being evaluated via the HAY methodology.
- Bonuses to apply to bands 2, 3 and 4.
- Assimilation of new salary structures as follows:-
- move to next highest point, plus one,
- red circles to hold all existing conditions,
- movement from overtime grade to non overtime grade to be handled
13. 1. Much of what emerged from Hay was influence by management and its proposals have no credibility or acceptance. It is seen by the Unions as an exercise by management to reduce wages and management was informed at an early stage in discussions that any negotiations on pay would be conducted and agreed under the industrial relations structures.
2. Management has not progressed much of the HAY proposals to any sort of finality. It is the Unions' view that the Court is left in an impossible position because of the volume of the outstanding grading issues.
3. Assessments carried out by HAY prior to Response 2000 were on a different basis to those carried out under Response 2000. Individual assessments were carried out in a transparent way with prior agreement on comparators and full details of the assessment were made available. This allowed individuals to challenge and correct factual inaccuracies in the HAY assessment. One of the factual inaccurate assessments remain unresolved and is included in the MSF individual cases. In another case, HAY produced a different result when the assessment was carried out under Response 2000 to the result produced on the individual assessment. The
Company is seeking to grade the individual on the second assessment rather than the first. This issue is also an MSF individual case.
4. Proper appeals mechanisms must be put in place in order to allow individuals process their grievances.
14. 1. Staff filled out their own job descriptions which were signed off by their supervisors. Over 600 job descriptions were drawn up and only one issue of conflict arose on the content of a job description. This was resolved to the satisfaction of all.
2. HAY evaluated jobs not people. The purpose of the exercise was to measure the job, not to measure the holder's ability, contribution, performance or value.
3. HAY contends that in an organisation like Bord Gais Eireann evaluation of 60 or so benchmark jobs is sufficient to design a salary structure. If the sample group of evaluations contains all of the well known/well understood jobs or positions and spans the organisation hierarchy then complete banding and slotting are fairly straight forward.
4. HAY Management Consultants, who are the world leaders in job evaluation, fully endorse the outcome of the salary harmonisation proposals.
15. The issue concerns SIPTU's claim for parity for fitters, leading hands, gasmen 1 and 2 and allied grades with governormen. The claim was first raised in 1993 following the governormens' successful claim for parity with the transmission technician which disturbed the parity between fitters/leading hands and the governormen.
16. 1. The start of Partnership 2000 discussions were delayed because of the Company's failure to address the parity claim. It was only on foot of a commitment from management to resolve this claim as the first item on the agenda of the discussions that allowed the Union to enter into the process.
2. The Company has acknowledged that unless the parity claim was satisfactorily settled the Response 2000 negotiations could not be concluded.
3. There is no detailed description comparing fitters or leading hands work with that of governormens' work. The Union has no difficulty with a job assessment but Hay would not be accepted, particularly in view of the history and the commitments given by the Company.
17. 1. Concession of this claim would have an adverse impact on other groupings within the Company and would seriously undermine the acceptability of the overall proposal because of the impact on proposed future differentials/parities. This is exampled by the Union's decision in 1997 to expand the claim to cover other manual grades.
2. The HAY findings effectively endorsed the assessment by the previous technical experts by allocating separate bands to the governormen and fitters/leading hands. Under the HAY proposals, the governormen are placed in band 9 along with technicians/chargehands etc. The fitters/leading hands are placed in the lower band 10. Gasmen, drivers and operative staff are in band 11.
18. This Company is seeking a framework for the introduction of performance appraisal. The Unions are not willing to agree even in principle until the details of the scheme are agreed.
19. 1. A commitment to consultation during the implementation of a performance management system is insufficient to protect the employees concerned from arbitrary decisions.
2. MSF is willing to negotiate the introduction of a system based on the principles put forward by the Company.
20. 1. The Company is seeking a framework for the introduction of performance appraisal and has offered the opportunity for consultation to all Unions.
21. As part of the Company's proposals on annual leave a buyout of mass times etc. is proposed. The Company's position is that agreement was reached during negotiations that buyout arrangements, where they apply, would be on the basis of 1.5 times the annual loss. The ATGWU argues that a number of buyouts are still to be finalised at local level.
22. 1. The Union objects to management's statement that this issue has not been identified by the Unions as a key determination in the acceptance of the overall proposals.
23. 1. The Court is requested to endorse the mechanism of 1.5 times the annual loss.
TRAVEL/STARTING ON SITE ALLOWANCE
24. During negotiations the Company agreed to extend the travel/starting on site allowances, previously agreed, to all groups nationally. The MSF is seeking that the allowance be applied to six mechanical technicians in Cork.
25. 1. The group has a working arrangement which has given considerable flexibility to the Company. The proposed new arrangement undermines that flexibility and in the Union's view is intended to increase workload in a manner that benefits the employer. Detailed discussions have taken place at local level on this issue although it has not been discussed at the Labour Relations Commission.
2. MSF request that the implementation of the starting on site allowance only takes place when the details of implementation and the differences in interpretation of the system have been addressed
26. 1. The allowance is a mechanism, which compensates staff, while at the same time improving productivity.
2. The issue was not discussed at, or referred to, the Labour Relations Commission because it had already been agreed at local and plenary group level. The benefits, which accrue to the six objecting technicians under the agreement, are:-
Increase in basic salary at max. point of scale £3,416
Minimum increase in allowances at max. point of scale £3,288
Total increase £6,704
3. There are no differences in interpretation of the system as claimed by MSF. The Human Resource department will monitor the introduction of the allowance on a national basis to ensure uniformity.
UNCERTIFIED SICK LEAVE
27. Uncertified sick leave as outlined in Response 2000 provides for five days uncertified sick leave, with staff who currently enjoy more than five days being allowed seven days. At present, approximately 25 staff in Cork Gas have unlimited sick leave.
28. 1. The Union is seeking that the Company confirm the agreement reached at local level on the 24th of June, 1999.
29. 1. The unlimited uncertified sick leave enjoyed by approximately 25 staff in Cork is an unsustainable condition of employment in the context of the overall agreement.
2. The proposal on uncertified sick leave was accepted by the Company and the majority of Unions and there is no valid reason for the retention of unlimited uncertified sick leave.
DISPUTES/GRIEVANCES/MANPOWER NUMBERS AND TEMPORARY STAFF
30. The Company is satisfied that issues regarding disputes/grievance procedures/manpower numbers and temporary staff were fully discussed and agreed by all parties at the Labour Relations Commission. The ATGWU's position is that negotiations have not been completed in relation to disputes/grievance procedures.
EATING ON SITE ALLOWANCE
31. A total of 235 staff currently qualify for meal allowances which are applied to overtime grades and operation foremen/supervisors. The Company's proposal standardises to the highest rate across the Company and improves the position for 90% of staff who are entitled to the allowance. The Unions sought an increase in allowances at conciliation.
BONUS ATTACHING TO BANDS 2, 3, AND 4
32. The proposed salary structure provides for a bonus element for management staff in bands 2, 3 and 4. This is viewed by the Company as an essential part of this revised structure.
33. 1. The Company has given no explanation of how it arrived at the proposed bonus system for bands 2 to 4. It is clear that the bonus has been extracted from the scales for these posts by removing the final 2/3 increments. These payments should therefore be consolidated into the scales.
2. The ATGWU is seeking that any benefits accruing from this claim should apply to its members.
34. 1. The Company's proposal to introduce bonus payments to senior management is in line with current trends and best practice across a wide range of industries and business.
2. The absence of an incentive would defeat the purpose of introducing performance criteria at this level and could impact on overall Company performance.
35. The methodology being applied is that staff will move from the point on their current scale to the next highest point on their new scale and up one increment. The Company considers this to be a fair and reasonable proposition and is at a cost of £850,000 per annum.
36. 1. The salary structure is not solely a mechanism to align staff. MSF was requested to allow its existing claims to be addressed through Response 2000. Assimilation and retrospection must take account of the proposal by the Company to use such a mechanism instead of the normal procedures. It should be noted that where individuals took up posts on the new bands during the course of Response 2000 negotiations, they were assimilated on the basis of across and up two increments.
37. 1. Some staff do not gain under harmonisation and under the proposal not all staff gain equally. An extra increment would create additional inequalities in the system.
2. The additional cost to the Company of the Union proposal is £250,000, a sum that the Company finds unsustainable and unacceptable in the context of the costs of the overall agreement.
HARMONISATION OF PAYROUND DATES
38. The Company propose that all staff stay on existing arrangements on a personal to holder basis and that all future staff are harmonised to latest possible dates. The Cork based Unions have sought harmonisation to the earliest possible date.
39. 1. The Union notes the inconsistency of the Company in seeking to harmonise only the conditions which suits management while resisting the extension of the principle across the board.
2. The elimination of a back week will not result in a cost to the Company as this payment will be re-couped from employees on their departure from the Company.
40. 1. Standardising at the earliest possible date would result in an additional cost of £50,000 which the Company finds unsustainable and unacceptable in the context of the costs of the overall agreement.
2. Should the Court find that there is merit in the claim it should harmonise by category type, as currently applies in Dublin.
NEW ENTRY LEVEL GRADE
41. The Company's proposal is aimed at re-establishing an entry grade on band 11. Under the proposal temporary staff being made permanent would be placed on the new entry grade at the appropriate level. SIPTU rejects the proposal.
42. 1. The Company's proposal to establish a new clerical entry grade on band 11, the bottom rung of the HAY proposals is rejected. This "yellow pack" proposal to have clerical staff doing the same work for less pay is both unnecessary and unacceptable.
43. 1. This is an essential element of the salary harmonisation proposals. It is accepted practice in a sound commercial organisation to have an entry level grade commensurate with the experience and training of new entrants.
2. To hold its position in a competitive environment, the Company requires better utilisation of labour, with harmonisation practices, no demarcation and full flexibility supporting continuous change. The Company sees the entry level grade as an integral part of this harmonisation.
44. Standby/on call payments currently apply to three categories of staff. These are the overtime grades, pool panel foremen and customer service supervisors. The overtime grades receive a weekly on call allowance plus overtime. In the case of the foreman/supervisor a pool panel 1 and 2 system operates. In relation to overtime grades the Company propose to standardise payment at £100 for the week on call plus a minimum of 4 hours callout. In relation to nine operational supervisors in Cork it proposes that their current weekly on call allowance will cease and that the pool 2 arrangement will apply. MSF are seeking improved standby payments for both overtime and non-overtime staff.
45. 1. Transmission technical staff qualify for a minimum of 4 hours callout. The 9 hours payment in respect of standby has allowed a flexible cover arrangement to apply in this area in relation to 7 day workers with all staff on the rota.
2. In response to requests from the Union for the introduction of a pool panel arrangement for certain staff members, the Company indicated that it would respond to the request. No response has been received although a new proposal has been put forward for another group.
46. 1. The proposal for non-overtime staff represents an improvement at all management levels. Staff at this level generally deal with issues over the phone and the actual number of callouts is of a minimal nature.
2. MSF seek a payment of £4,000 per annum for managers on voluntary standby of one in five, in addition to a payment equivalent to 9 hours pay, plus time off in lieu for any callout and to include a day in lieu for standby over a bank holiday. The Court is requested to reject the MSF claim which would cost the Company an additional £520,000 per annum.
47. Permanent health insurance is currently available to approximately 211 staff at various locations. Some Unions are seeking the extension of the PHI to all employees and others claim a contribution towards VHI subscription. The claim involves 30 staff in Cork and 435 in Dublin.
48. 1. The Union is seeking that the Company pay an agreed VHI subscription. It emerged during discussions that the Company is funding a PHI scheme for employees outside of Dublin. Given the Company's stated commitment to harmonisation of conditions, the claim is reasonable in the circumstances.
49. 1. The Company rejects this claim on the basis of the additional benefits provided in amendments to sick leave benefits, pay and conditions of employment and the prohibitive ongoing costs.
2. The sick pay scheme as standardised throughout the organisation is as good as any found in other companies and Bord Gais Eireann should not be asked to take on any additional costs in this area.
ANNUAL LEAVE ENTITLEMENT
50. The Company's proposal provides for all staff with a current annual leave entitlement of 20 days or greater to retain it and to continue to benefit from existing service leave entitlements as applicable. All new entrants to receive annual leave entitlements as follows:- (no additional service entitlement to apply)
Clerical/Manual - 20 days plus 2.5 concession days
Supervisory/Technical - 22 days plus 2.5 concession days
Management - 24 days plus 2.5 concession says.
SIPTU is seeking 24 days and the ATGWU is seeking 26 days for all staff.
51. 1. There are significant differences in the Company's proposal regarding the annual leave entitlements of the clerical/manual grades and that of management. In view of the Company's stated commitment to harmonisation, the Union's claim for 24 days is reasonable.
2. The ATGWU's position is that 26 days annual leave should apply to all employees as part of the Response 2000 agreement.
52. 1. The proposal on annual leave (inclusive of concession days) is fair and reasonable and compares well with industry in general.
2. The additional costs of the claims would amount to £390,000. In the context of the overall package the Company should not be asked to take on any additional costs of an ongoing nature.
STAFF RATE FOR GAS
53. The Unions are seeking an agreed reduced price for gas on behalf of the workers. The Company rejects the claim.
54. 1. Bord Gais Eireann should treat its employees similar to other semi-state organisations by introducing a concession on its core product to all staff, such benefits to be retained on retirement.
2. Concession on products produced by other companies is a feature of other employments. In the circumstances the Unions' claim is justified.
55. 1. Concession of this claim would create inequalities between staff at a time when the Company and the Unions are seeking to harmonise conditions of employment.
2. The claim is not justified and would lead to an estimated cost of £98,000 per annum.
ACROSS THE BOARD/SPECIAL GROUP PERCENTAGE INCREASES
56. The Unions are seeking an across the board percentage increase for the changes proposed in Response 2000. Management reject the claim. It argues that the claim is in breach of Partnership 2000.
57. 1. The enormous changes proposed under Response 2000 will result in substantial ongoing savings to the Company. In the circumstances the Unions' claim for a percentage increase is justified.
2. The Company is hugely profitable and has been for a number of years and is ideally placed to compensate its employees for their ongoing contribution towards the Company's success.
58. 1. The Unions' claim is in breach of Clause 6 of Partnership 2000.
2. Clause 2 of Partnership 2000 provides for a local bargaining element of 2% which the Company has already implemented.
3. There is no justification for any specific across the board or special group specific increases in salary, which in any event would not be ratified by the shareholders.
ONCE-OFF LUMP SUM PAYMENTS
59. The Company propose a lead-in payment of £2,000 per individual spread over two years. The Unions' are seeking a lump sum payment of £8,000.
60. 1. The Company's proposed phased lump sum of £2,000 over 3 years was simply its opening offer and no negotiations took place in relation to the offer. For this offer to be taken seriously it must be increased four-fold.
2. The Company is in a good position to compensate its employees for their contribution towards it ongoing profitability and for the substantial changes which it is currently seeking. In particular, a reduction in numbers, rationalisation of activities, extended use of contractors, flexibility, inter-changeability and continuous improvement. In the circumstances the claim for £8,000 per individual is reasonable.
61. All pensions are to be amalgamated into one scheme. Members of non-standard pensions (e.g. Cork non-contribution scheme), will be invited to join the standard scale of benefits. The Company emphasises that at plenary level the setting up of a working group was agreed.
62. 1. The MPGWU is agreeable to enter into discussions with the Company to harmonise the various schemes. These matters should be properly addressed outside of Response 2000.
2. Currently long serving members in Cork are members of the Cork Gas Pension Scheme, while newer entrants are members of the Bord Gais Pension Scheme. Both schemes are in need of improvement and the Union is available for negotiations which should form part of the Response 2000 agreement.
63. 1. The setting up of a working group to oversee issues arising from the integration of the various pension schemes was agreed during negotiations. The Court is requested to endorse the setting up of this working group.
EMPLOYEE SHARE OPTION PLAN
64. The Company has no objection in principle to an ESOP and the principle has been accepted by the Department of Public Enterprise.
65. 1. Any set of proposals which do not include an ESOP is unacceptable.
2. The Company was made aware at the beginning of discussions that a pre-requisite of any agreement was that a 5% ESOP had to be on the table.
66. 1. The concession of an ESOP, the principle of which has been accepted by the Department of Public Enterprise, should bring additional financial benefits to the employees.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions from all parties in relation to this case. The Court notes the difficulties expressed by some unions that this case was prematurely before the Court. All parties agreed to go ahead with the case and the unions indicated their willingness to proceed as a cohesive group. The Court appreciates that there are a multitude of issues and a variety of interested parties in this case and is grateful for the co-operation by all sides in ensuring the smooth running of the case.
A decision was made by the Court not to hear individual claims as part of this hearing. To do so would have unnecessarily complicated issues and was not the appropriate forum for such claims as in this instance the Court was dealing with broader issues.
The Court notes that the company is attempting to respond to the changing environment facing its industry and is taking major steps to ensure its ongoing success. A company wide programme of change has been initiated to implement best practice and a strategic direction for the future of Bord Gais Eireann This is being done through the process of a single national agreement called Response 2000. This involves a number of changes to pay structures and conditions of employment so as to bring about a more harmonised situation for an organisation that has up until now been so diversified.
Very significant time and effort has been devoted by both sides to addressing the needs of the organisation, agreement has been reached in principle on major changes, although these are conditional on an overall resolution of the entire package.
The Unions are committed to the successful future of Bord Gais Eireann and its employees.
The Court has given careful consideration to all the elements of Response 2000 in contention and to the many union reactions to the plan. In an effort to address the issues in dispute the Court recommends as follows:
All the following recommendations of the Court are dependant on full acceptance of the package as a whole;
The Court understands the need for the company to allow for advances in technology to suit the needs of the changing environment the company finds itself in. The Court also sympathises with the fears of the unions in relation to third party access to the technology. The Court recommends acceptance of the technology clause as contained in Clause 2.3 Response 2000. All unions should
agree to co-operate with the implementation of this technology clause and the Court recommends that a review of the clause should be carried out in two years to assess its impact on jobs.
The Court acknowledge that the Unions have accepted in principle the Contractors clause, as contained in Clause 2.4 Response 2000.
As it appears to the Court that the intention of the new wording is to employ approved sub-contractors, directly engaged in Bord Gais Eireann work, the wording of the proposed clause and the spirit of those words should be accepted.
The Court understands that the extra clause as contained in Clause 4.29 regarding disclosure of information/confidentiality is acceptable to the unions.
The Court notes the reservation expressed by MSF with regard to “whistle-blowing” i.e. in the interest of the public it may be necessary in exceptional circumstances to break that confidentiality. The Court considers that this is a rare possibility but such a situation should be borne in mind by the company and provision for such an event included in the agreement. Once, it does not infringe upon the legal rights of a person (as the company has agreed), the Court recommends that this clause should be accepted.
The Court accepts that there is a need to radically restructure the current pay structure and thereby accepts the use of the HAY system for this purpose. HAY are a well established and respected organisation and have a lot of experience in this area.
However, to address the many fears and doubts expressed by the Unions, the Court recommends that eighteen months following implementation of the new salary scales, an appeals committee should be set up to assess individual claims. Both parties should agree the terms of reference, the appointment of an independent chairperson and who should represent each side.
The Court recommends that information on the HAY methodology should be given to the Unions as requested, this information should also be made available to the appeals committee.
The claim for parity for fitters, leading hands gasmen 1 and 2 and allied grades with governormen should be addressed as a matter of urgency. The Court recommends that as this is a claim which predated Response 2000 and as a consequences of the assurances given to the unions that this
issue would be dealt with separately, then for these grades and these grades alone an assessor should be appointed to carry out an evaluation exercise. The Court recommends that the same technical assessors who carried out the original assessment on the Transmission Technicians and the Governormen should now also undertake this exercise.
The Court recommends that on the issue of performance management, both parties should discuss and agree a framework for the introduction of performance appraisal. In making this recommendation the Court is conscious of the sentiments expressed by the Company and the assurances given in Appendix 5 of their written submission to the Court regarding the process to be used in assessing the performance of management and in developing a plan for their future.
The Court considers that a proposal to pay one and half times the annual loss should be accepted by the unions.
Travel/Starting on Site Allowance
The outstanding element of this claim relates to six mechanical technicians in Cork. The Court notes MSF’s position on this issue and the fact that this issue was not discussed at the Labour Relations Commission. Therefore, the Court recommends that this issue should be discussed under the auspices of an industrial relations officer of the Labour Relations Commission and consideration given as to why the six mechanical technicians do not fit into the proposed new arrangement.
Uncertified Sick Leave
The Court recommends that the uncertified sick pay scheme proposed as outlined at Clause 3.23.2 Response 2000 should be accepted with one amendment - those staff (approximately 25 staff members in Cork Gas) who currently enjoy more that five days uncertified sick leave should be entitled to retain this benefit on a personal to holder basis.
Disputes/Grievances, Manpower Numbers and Temporary Staff Conditions
The Court understands that these clauses were agreed at the Labour Relations Commission as they are worded in Response 2000.
Eating on Site Allowance
The Court recommends acceptance of the eating on site allowances proposal as contained in Appendix 15 of the Company's submission to the Court.
Bonuses Attaching to Bands 2,3,4.
The Court recognises that the application of salary plus bonus is balanced in relation to the overall structure of the proposed salary bands. Accordingly, the Court recommends acceptance of the proposed bonuses attaching to bands 2, 3 and 4.
The method of assimilation as proposed is a well recognised and accepted method - moving across to the next highest point on the new scale plus one increment. The Court accepts this method as the fairest way of assimilating grades and recommends that the proposals as outline in Appendix 13 of the Company's submission to the Court should be accepted.
The Union has sought the harmonisation of pay rounds of all categories of employees to the earliest possible date. The Court recommends harmonisation of pay rounds dates by category type, as applies in Dublin. The Court recommends that these new dates should apply when P2000 expires.
Therefore, P2000 will be deemed to expire for all gas fitters in the company from 29th February 2000; for all management from 31st March 2000; for all manual workers and meter readers from 17th April 2000 and for all technical, clerical and staff from 31st May 2000.
New Entry Level Grade
The Court accepts the Company's requirement to introduce a new entry level grade. However, the Court does not recommend that those temporary staff presently employed should be placed on this new grade. The Court recommends that the current temporary employees should be assimilated onto the new bands according to their service.
The Court recommends acceptance of the proposal with regard to standby for overtime grades; the pool panel supervisors and foremen in Dublin and Cork and for the non-overtime (management) grades, as outlined in detail, in Appendix 17 of the Company's submission to the Court.
The Court notes the improved benefits to the sick pay scheme, which were agreed as part of Response 2000. The Court accepts the company position that PHI entitlements as paid to the 211 employees on a personal to holder basis should remain on that basis and the Court rejects the claim to extend this benefit to other employees.
The Court rejects the claim for a company contribution to be paid to a VHI scheme. However, if its not already in existence, the Court recommends that the company should facilitate employees - if they so wish - with a group health insurance provider scheme, whereby the company would deduct an amount towards the cost of such a scheme from an employee's salary and remit it to the insurance company, thereby, allowing the employee to avail of group discount offered by health insurance providers.
Annual Leave Entitlement
The Court recommends acceptance of the proposals as outline in Appendix 16 of the Company's submission to the Court with regard to the annual leave entitlement.
Staff Rate for Gas
The Court agrees in principle with the thrust of this claim. The Court recommends that the parties should discuss a method by which the company would introduce a policy which would allow for a staff rate for those staff using the Company's product for their own domestic use.
Across the Board/Special Group Percentage Increases
The Court rejects the claim for an across the board/special pay increase.
Once Off Lump Sum Issues
- With regard to the claim in respect of a lump sum for “retrospection average holiday pay” the Court notes that the company has offered a once off lump sum of £550 to those effected by the claim, the Court recommends that this should be increased to £1000.
- With regard to the issue of relocation payments, the Court is of the view that this should not form part of this agreement and recommends that the issue should be negotiated separately from the Response 2000 agreement.
- With regard to the claim for a once off payment for acceptance of the overall agreement, the Court notes that the company has offered £2000 per individual and the unions have sought a payment of £8000 - this amount was endorsed by all unions party to this claim. If the proposals as put forward by management and varied in this recommendation by the Court are acceptable to all the Unions involved in this claim, the Court recommends that the lump sum payment should be discussed as a matter of urgency, under the auspices of an industrial relations officer of the Labour Relations Commission.
The Court notes it has been agreed that all pension schemes in the company are to be amalgamated into one scheme. This is obviously a major task. The Court notes that a Working Group will be set up to oversee issues arising from the integration of the schemes. The Court endorses the setting up of this Working Group.
The Court notes the current position with regard to the question of ESOPs in the company as outlined in the letter from the Department of Public Enterprise to the company, dated 19th October 1999, which indicates the department's commitment to introduce ESOP in Bord Gais.
The Court notes that discussions are due to take place concerning suchmatters as, inter alia, the percentage level of shares to be offered to employees, measurable savings arising from restructuring, Bord Gais Eireann's future status and objective appraisal of Bord Gais Eireann's valuation.
The Court notes that the company do not have any objection to ESOPs.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd December, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.