INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SERVISAIR (IRELAND) LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Pay related issues.
2. The Company is a ground handling agent which operates in 72 airports and 10 countries throughout Europe. Servisair Ireland employs approximately 400 staff in the winter season, increasing to 500 staff in the summer season.
There was a history of bad industrial relations in the Company up to 1997 when, following the intervention of the Advisory Service of the Labour Relations Commission, a comprehensive Agreement was drawn up. Paragraph 14.1 of the Agreement provided for a review of operational aspects, shift pay and sick leave to be undertaken not later than the 30th of November, 1998. The review commenced in October, 1998, at which time a Joint Steering Committee (JSC) was also established to examine areas of retention, recruitment, quality of service, health and safety and communications. The Joint Steering Committee issued recommendations in February, 1999, which were accepted in May, 1999, following the withdrawal of a proposal on ramp integration.
In early August, 1999, the Company referred the review of the Agreement to the Labour Relations Commission as the issue could not be resolved locally. On the 12th of August, 1999, 57% of cargo industrial employees and 33% of cargo clerical staff took part in unofficial industrial action - a 'Blue Flu' day. Conciliation conferences were held on the 13th, 19th and 20th of August, 1999, to discuss approximately fifteen items which were in dispute at the time. The Industrial Relations Officer issued a proposal which both parties agreed to recommend for acceptance. However, the proposal was rejected at ballot by the workforce by 143 votes to 47. The parties agreed to refer the pay related issues to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. In September, 1999, a ballot in favour of industrial action was passed by 181 votes to 21. The Labour Court investigated the dispute on the 27th of October, 1999.
3. 1. The claimants are the second lowest paid workers in ground handling at Dublin Airport, yet they give a high degree of flexibility, co-operation and commitment. They regularly work short staffed, work more than one shift at a time and remain on duty to cover late arrivals.
2. Many staff leave after a very short time due to the low wages and high demands. The remaining staff are obliged to work excessive hours of overtime, partially in order to obtain a decent wage but primarily to provide a quality service to the Company and to the customer.
3. Basic rates of pay need to be addressed as they compare very unfavourably with rates paid by Aer Lingus, British Midland and British Airways. Annual leave entitlement in Servisair is also significantly lower. The shift rate should also be increased from £44.25 to £60.00 (index linked) or to a percentage rate. This would benefit virtually all employees. The increases which were proposed at conciliation for night payments, Saturday/Sunday payments, etc. would probably be acceptable when combined with the other increases.
4. The issue of the 39-hour week has been the subject of a very protracted and bitter disagreement. As the Company regularly needs people to work at least 40 hours per week there is little to gain from clawing back the 40th hour. The loss of one hour's earnings will affect workers' morale and goodwill, and if the workers work overtime the Company will pay only the basic rate for the first hour of overtime (the 40th hour).
5. There are constant problems with the payment of wages. The Company must ensure that wages are paid accurately and systematically. When errors are made the worker affected must not be expected to wait until the next wage packet before the Company corrects its errors.
4. 1. The Company wishes to remunerate all employees fairly and believes that this is the case. Its pay rates are comparable with its main competitor at Dublin Airport, namely Aer Lingus.
2. The Company is seriously concerned at the level of deterioration of industrial relations within the Company. The Company has acted upon the recommendations of the Labour Relations Commission's Advisory Service, it has negotiated a Company/Union Agreement which incorporates new enhanced pay scales and it has invested in newly created positions for human resources management and services. It also involved staff in a Joint Steering Committee which was designed to increase employee involvement in the business.
3. The Company has honoured the terms of Partnership 2000 to date. It has made an offer of 6.75% across all supplements although the review clause referred only to shift pay and sick leave. The Company has introduced an attendance bonus, a quality bonus and a generous maternity package. It has increased investment in training and recruitment and has provided the highest health and safety standards to enhance the working environment for all employees.
4. Against a background of declining productivity, the Company cannot sustain a further erosion of its competitive position due to significant cost increases. The growth in low cost airlines and impending EU deregulation will result in further competition with increased pressure on competitiveness and a reduction in revenue.
The Court notes in the agreement concluded between the parties in March, 1997, both parties agreed to abide by the terms of Partnership 2000 for its duration. The only scope left open for review of pay issues was in respect of service pay and sick leave.
The Court also notes that at conciliation a comprehensive set of proposals was produced and recommended for acceptance. These proposals are set out in the Industrial Relations Officer's letter to the parties of the 20th of August, 1999.
In the Court's view these proposals constitute a fair and comprehensive response to the Union's claims having regard to the terms of the 1997 agreement. The Court can find no basis on which it could recommend that they be further enhanced.
The Court recommends that the proposals of the 20th of August, 1999 nowbeaccepted and implemented. Any other pay related issues should be dealt with in a post Partnership 2000 setting.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th December, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.