INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. PCW Clause 2(iii)(A) - Claim for pay parity with Gardai.
2. In July, 1998 agreement was reached between the Garda Representative Association and the Government side in respect of Garda pay (under the terms of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work). The agreement provided for an increase of 7% for productivity measures tabled to date and an additional 2% as payment on account of productivity measures to emerge from further discussions.
Following the Garda settlement, discussions took place between the parties on the Unions' claim in respect of approximately 810 fire fighters, sub officers and station officers. The Unions are seeking an increase in pay of 7% plus 2%, the increase which was obtained by the Gardai, on the basis of a long-standing pay parity arrangement with the Gardai. The Unions accept that the increase should be related to productivity but argue that the workers have already conceded sufficient changes to warrant payment of the claim and have identified 13 items of productivity, nine of which have been agreed with management,
The Corporation's position is that the 13 items listed by the Unions is nowhere near the totality required and has tabled its own list of 6 items (details supplied to the Court) of productivity which it considers the Unions would have to agree to warrant concession of the claim.
The matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. Two conciliation conferences took place but agreement could not be reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 5th of January, 1999 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd of February, 1999.
3. 1. The Unions are seeking parity of pay with the Gardai based on past productivity. The following items of productivity, already given, justifies concession of the claim
(1) Amalgamation of Dun Laoghaire
(2) Co-operation with Ambulance Review
(3) Computerisation / New Technology
(4) Extension of Control Room duties to cover Laois/Meath
(5) Co-operation with E.H.B.
(6) Increase in (after hours )calls, Fingal, Dun Laoghire/Rathdown
(7) Increase in Administrative Duties
(8) Co-operation with Training (E.M.T.)
(9) Defibrillator Introduction
(10) I.S.O. 9002
(11) Off Shore Marine Fire Fighting
(12) Introduction of Pre Fire Planning
(13) Transfer Arrangements (Inter Station)
2. Management has acknowledged that parity of pay with An Garda Siochana was established in 1968.
3. Management sought the co-operation of fire fighters on many issues, all of which were necessary to effectively and efficiently operate this essential service. Many items of productivity were introduced on the understanding that these items would be counted towards the final settlement.
4. Dublin Corporation was always aware that both Unions were intent on maintaining the pay link with An Garda Siochana. At no stage did management indicate that it wished to break the pay link. Discussions took place on the understanding that the final settlement would maintain the pay relationship with the Gardai.
5. The Unions are prepared to discuss the outstanding items on the 13 point list in order to resolve the issue of productivity. Management appear to be less than interested in working to resolve the issues of past productivity and wish to agree items of productivity which the Unions consider to be issues for the future. The Unions remain committed to negotiate change and regret management's refusal to enter into discussions on the remaining items on the list.
6. It is accepted by management that Dublin Fire Brigade operates an effective and efficient fire service and that many items of change have been introduced over the period of the PCW and Partnership 2000. The fire fighters have co-operated on a wide range of issues but are not prepared to extend that co-operation until the issue of parity is restored. The Court is respectfully requested to examine the interim settlement which resolved the Garda claim and recommend the application of that pay agreement to fire fighters employed in Dublin Fire Brigade.
4. 1. Pay determination in the Public Sector has undergone a radical shift under the mechanisms available through the PCW. The particular clause under which this claim has been put forward provides that any agreement must result in savings and an improved quality of public service. The Unions have put forward a list of 13 items on which they consider they have given productivity to warrant the payment of a 7% pay increase with an additional 2% for a commitment to talk about further productivities. Management consider that for a payroll increase of the magnitude claimed, real and substantial payroll savings are required and to that end has tabled its own productivity items. The Union refused to discuss these items.
2. Management is prepared to consider these items, not on the exclusive basis put forward by the Unions but as an attempt to put together an overall productivity agenda and without prejudice to management's right to put forward its own proposals for productivity. Notwithstanding the fact that the Unions put forward these 13 items as past productivities some of which were not resolved or were only delivered in part, management spent time discussing these items with a view to having them fully clarified and with a view to seeing to what extent they could be considered as real and acceptable productivities. However, at all times it was made clear that they did not represent anything near the totality of what would be required to secure agreement on the basis of the cost of what was being claimed.
3. The cost of payroll (i.e. wages and pensions) in the Fire Brigade is increasing at a rate which is out of line with other staff costs in Dublin Corporation and is moving towards a position which is unsustainable. An actuarial report on future pension costs shows that Fire Brigade pension costs will have doubled between 1995 and 2000. Dublin fire fighters' wages are not Exchequer funded unlike Gardai, Nurses etc., any increase has to be borne directly by the ratepayers. In the last financial year Fire Brigade wages amounted to £23.5 million. Payment of the increase sought would require additional funding of £4.6 million approximately in backdated payments and in excess of £2.1 million in the coming year. This comes at a time when the Government have capped the rates increase at 5% and when the effective valuation (i.e. the rate base) is lower than it was in 1991.
4. In addition to funding from Dublin Corporation, some funding is also provided by the three adjoining authorities and the Eastern Health Board who are already questioning the "Value for Money" provided by the Dublin Fire Brigade. The Eastern Health Board have in fact placed capping limits on the amount which they are prepared to pay for the Emergency Ambulance Service and have argued strongly that they can provide the service at significantly lower costs.
5. Concession of this claim, unmatched by substantial savings, would undermine Dublin Corporation's financial situation and would place in jeopardy the continued provision of its Fire and Ambulance Service to adjoining authorities and other agencies.
6. Dublin Corporation is fully committed to providing the most efficient and effective fire service possible and to this end it has tabled a fair and balanced list of productivities required. These productivities would not adversely affect any individual's working conditions. Dublin Corporation contends that they would enhance and improve the working conditions of all fire fighters. Under the terms of PCW the Government and the Trade Unions expressed their full commitment to approaching negotiations under this clause on the basis that real changes involving savings and improvements in efficiency and effectiveness would be achieved. Throughout its dealings on this issue the Corporation has endeavoured to do this and asks the Court to uphold its position in this case.
Both sides have taken up intransigent positions in relation to the proposed productivity items raised by the other side.
The management accept that a linkage with the Gardai exists but refute the Unions' claim that the 13 items listed as past productivity justify payment of a salary increase equivalent to the Gardai. Management wants its own list of proposals agreed.
The Union side argue that the agreed items(from the list of 13) justify payment as per the Garda Agreement. The Union side further claims that negotiations should be conducted as per the Gardai pay negotiations.
The Court having examined the agreement arrived at in the Gardai negotiations, notes that 2A of that Agreement clearly states that"the official side accept that productivity measures tabled by both sides to date, which include measures relating to Court attendance, on the spot fines and Pulse training, enable the figure of 7% already indicated by the Chairman, to be reached ".
This is the major difference between these negotiations and the Gardai negotiations as there is no agreement on productivity items valued sufficiently to justify payment of the initial 7% in this case.
The Court having considered all the information supplied recommends that the parties enter into discussion immediately on all of the productivity items identified by both sides with a view to agreeing a package to justify payment of 7%. These discussions to be completed within two months of the date of this recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th February, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.