INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CENTRAL AND REGIONAL FISHERIES BOARDS
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning restructuring under Clause 2 (Iii) of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW).
2. The dispute concerns a claim by approximately 215 field grade staff (Fishery Officers, Inspectors and Assistant Inspectors) employed by the Central Fisheries Board and seven Regional Fisheries Boards. The parties could not reach agreement on direct negotiations on a restructuring deal under Clause 2 (iii) of the PCW. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a number of conciliation conferences were held between 22nd October, 1997 and 16th October, 1998. Substantial progress was achieved and agreement was reached under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (details of the draft agreement supplied to the Court) on a number of issues. Following the final conciliation conference the issues on which agreement could not be reached are as follows:
- (a) Pay
There is an accepted link between the grades in the Fisheries' Boards and the Agricultural Officer Grades. The Union are claiming that the pay proposals of the Boards fall short of those obtained by the linked grade after restructuring.
The Union wants a pay deal which is no less favourable than that applying to the Agricultural Officer grades and that includes the effective date of any increase. (Back to 1994 in the case of Agricultural Officers).
The Boards stated that their pay proposals are not being altered and that the new rates would apply from date of agreement.
(b) Unsocial Hours Allowance (UHA)
At present this is paid to Field Staff engaged in Fishery Protection duties. It is worth approximately £50 per week and is taken into account for pension purposes.
The Boards are proposing to pay UHA on a sliding scale having regard to the amount of unsocial hours done;
- - 20% of the current allowance will be paid to those liable to be called out and working up to 200 unsocial hours per annum.
- 60% of the current allowance to those working between 200 - 999 unsocial hours per annum.
- 100% of the allowance to those working 1,000 or more unsocial hours per annum.
The Union rejected this proposal completely, arguing that it would lead to a significant reduction in the earnings of its members.
(c) Cross Functional Flexibility
The principle of Cross Functional Flexibility has been accepted. The difficulty here related to the unsocial hours allowance. The Union wants to ensure that no officer would lose his/her existing unsocial hours allowance. The Board want their proposal on UHA to apply in a cross functional setting.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 19th October, 1998. A Court hearing was held on the 3rd December, 1998. A letter recommendation has issued on the 16th of February, 1999.
There has been significant co-operation with change which involved substantial change of value to the Central and Regional Fisheries' Boards and the public at large. Even when the pay terms sought are conceded the full effect of the pay aspect of the Agreement will not compare favourably with those of other grades in the public service. In view of the substantial co-operation and concessions agreed by the workers concerned they should be treated no less favourably than Agricultural Officer grades to which these workers are related by agreement for pay purposes
The change conceded in relation to the effective date greatly exceeds that conceded by the Agricultural Officers' and others in the public sector. The pay adjustment sought is overall less favourable than that which applied to the Agricultural Officers.
The principle of recognition in terms of a percentage element of salary, in respect of the fact that officers in this service pay superannuation whereas those in the Agricultural Officer Service do not, has been well established and agreed. With the passage of time there has been a slippage which needs to be rectified retrospectively.
Incremental Credit for Temporary Fishery Officers
Incremental credit on the basis of the aggregation of service applies generally in the Health and Local Authority Sectors up to a maximum of 5 years. Even this provision is denied to workers. However, it is not adequate as the nature of the service is different and workers may serve in a temporary capacity for many years. As a very minimum the Union seeks full incremental credit on the basis of aggregation of service.
2. Unsocial Hours Allowance
Management's proposal would effectively claw back the cost of the minimalist increases proposed on pay scales by emasculating the unsocial hours allowance which is designed to afford officers some element of recompense for working, often all through the night, weekends and public holidays. The allowance is the subject of recorded agreement and previous Labour Court recommendation.
3. Cross Functional Flexibility
This extensive and radical change has been agreed to by the Union, however, no currently serving officer should incur deleterious change in pay or terms of employment as a result of the change. The key element of the restructuring approach from workers' perspective is to seek improvements in pay and quality of employment.
1.1 The claim falls to be considered within the PCW Clause 2(iii) (A) context i.e. the need for flexibility, change, savings and improved payroll during the lifetime of the PCW with some provision for drift of around 2%. The proposed pay scales have regard to the restructuring needs of the Fisheries Boards, their staffing profile and the PCW parameters. It is proposed to implement the revised scales in full from the date of agreement/current date. Details of the assimilation arrangements which would operate in respect of the various grades are supplied to the Court.
1.2 The field grade staff have never enjoyed pay parity with Agricultural Officers grades. The intention of pay restructuring under the PCW was that agreements could be concluded without regard to traditional pay links.
Incremental Credit for Temporary Fishery Officers
In the case of The Boards’ Temporary Fishery Officers assimilation would be from the minimum point of their scale to the second point on the new scale because of the lengthening of the new scale itself. The Boards do not have Department of Finance approval for temporary staff to incrementally progress up the salary scale. Incremental credit or progression is only approved for permanent workers.
2. Unsocial Hours Allowance
2.1 Field staff engaged in fishery protection duties are required to be available over 24 hours each day and through 7 days each week and to work flexible hours through this period. Hours worked on weekdays between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and on Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays are categorised as unsocial hours.
Compensation to staff on protection duties for such availability is as follows: Inspector - £2,888 p.a.
Assistant Inspector - £2,819 p.a.
Fishery Officer - £2,771 p.a. Additionally, time off in lieu is granted for any hours worked in excess of the 39 hour week. The allowances are paid on a weekly basis to the grades concerned.
2.2 The requirement for unsocial hours working is largely seasonal i.e. during the summer months. Under the current system, there is no relationship between the amount of the allowance paid and the level of unsocial hours worked e.g. a Fishery Officer working 150 hours of unsocial hours per annum receives the same allowance as a Fishery Officer who works 1,100 hours per annum. Furthermore, the allowance is only payable to staff involved in protection activities. Staff engaged solely on development work do not qualify for the allowance. While the amount of unsocial hours work involved on development activities would be much less than on protection duties, compensation for these unsocial hours is by means of time off in lieu only.
Accordingly, Management sought, as part of its flexibility /change agenda, to introduce a more equitable and fair system for unsocial hours payment.
2.3 The three-tiered payment system proposed by Management would have resulted in staff engaged in development activities who worked unsocial hours, qualifying for some level of payment in addition to the time off in lieu.
2.4 The proposed new payment system would be more equitable for protection staff working unsocial hours in that it would introduce the concept of linking compensation more closely with the level of unsocial hours commitment. It is also based on the important principle that local management would decide the level of unsocial hours to be worked and the staff who should be involved.
The revised system put forward by Management is the only change/flexibility measure which has potential to generate some financial savings. This will make a contribution to funding the special pay increases on offer to the workers.
3. Cross Functional Flexibility
3.1 The 1984 Staff Scheme provided for a new staff structure within each Fisheries Board. This allowed for continued specialisation of existing staff in either fisheries protection or fisheries development with separate reporting arrangements. Management requires full co-operation for assignments of a short-term or long-term duration involving protection staff carrying out development work and development staff carrying our protection work.
3.2 Management maintains that the payment for any unsocial hours allowance should be governed by its proposed new payment system. The issue of cross-functional flexibility formed one of the productivity measures in the 1984 Staff Scheme. The Boards now wish to implement this flexibility service-wide which will be critical for future service development.
The Court has considered the proposals on flexibility and change measures reached between the parties under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission and through independent facilitation. These proposals are set out in the “Post Conciliation Document” and the Document from the Facilitator entitled “Reporting Relationship of Inspectors to Assistant Managers”. The flexibility and change measures contained in these proposals for agreement should be amended to reflect the following recommendations of the Court on the remaining measures in dispute. Field Grade Staff should co-operate fully with the implementation of all measures in return for the revised pay scales recommended hereunder.
1.Pay and Restructuring
The Court, having carefully considered the arguments put forward by both sides, recommends that the pay scales, effective dates/phasing arrangements and assimilation arrangements put forward by Management be improved as follows:-
Effective dates/Phasing arrangements:
The Court notes Management's resistance to the application of any retrospective pay increases in view of the protracted nature of these restructuring negotiations. However, the Court is satisfied in all the circumstances that the dates sought by the Union should apply i.e.,
1st Phase: 60% of the special increase to be implemented with effect
from 1st June, 1994
2nd Phase: 40% of the special increase to be implemented with effect
from 1st June, 1997
The Court recommends that Management's final offer should be improved as follows:
- •The 1st LSI on the Fishery Officer scale should be further
increased to £15,700
•The 2nd LSI on the Fishery Officer scale should be further
increased to £16,500
- •The 2nd LSI on the Inspectors scale should be further
increased to £24,000
The Court recommends acceptance of the assimilation principles outlined in Management's final offer for the Inspectors and the Assistant Inspectors.
In relation to Fisher Officers, the Court is of the view that some account should be taken of service at the maximum in terms of their progression up the new salary scale. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the assimilation arrangements be improved for those Fishery Officers who had one year on the maximum of the old scale at 1st June, 1994. Instead of qualifying for the 2nd LSI in the year 2001, the Court recommends that they should benefit from the 2nd LSI on their relevant incremental date in the year 2000.
2.Flexibility & Change Measures
In regard to the remaining issues in dispute, the Court makes the following recommendations:-
2.1Unsocial Hours Payment System
- The Court accepts the Board's argument that Field Grades engaged in Protection duties are in receipt of the full unsocial hours allowance regardless of the number of hours worked during the designated unsocial hours periods and as a consequence of the need to change in this are. However, it also notes the Union’s argument that the allowance forms a well established element of remuneration for Officers engaged in Protection duties.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the current system, as set out in the Staff Scheme, continues to apply (attracting all relevant pay adjustments) to all permanent and temporary whole-time staff on a ‘red-circled - personal to holder’ basis, in employment on the date of acceptance of this recommendation. Those temporary seasonal staff with one of more years service should also benefit form the ‘red-circled - personal to holder’ arrangement on a pro-rata basis.
The Court recommends that the parties immediately enter negotiations with a view to agreeing a new unsocial hours payment system which should apply to staff joining the service after the date of acceptance of this Recommendation.
The Court notes the absence of any real discussion on the details of a revised system and recommends the following guidelines be taken in to account in finalising the revised system:
- •Fair reward for the liability to work unsocial hours
•Payment levels which relate to the unsocial hours
Should the parties fail to agree within four months from the date of this recommendation, any unresolved issues to be referred back to the Court for determination.
- •Fair reward for the liability to work unsocial hours
2.1Cross Functional Flexibility
- The Court notes that the parties have arrived at proposals for agreement on paragraphs 1, 3, 4 and 5 of this Section (Section 5 of the ‘Post Conciliation Document’). In relation to paragraph 2, the Court recommends that Protection staff should co-operate with deployment across functions as required by management. However, noting the Union's arguments, the Court recommends that the provisions of the existing Staff Scheme should continue to apply and Officers concerned should retain their unsocial hours allowance on a ‘red-circled - personal to holder’ basis (attracting all relevant pay adjustments).
The Court notes that the list referred to in connection with paragraph 3 has not yet been furnished by the Union. Accordingly, the Union should submit this list of serving staff, (named individuals), who are requesting an exemption i.e., those who have not service in Protection since 1984 so that the matter can be finalised. These groups should participate in cross-functional flexibility on a voluntary basis.
2.3Identity of the Fisheries Service - Logos & Uniforms
Both sides have agreed to reconvene the Working Party on Uniforms to conclude the details on the Dress Code and to allow the introduction of Uniforms for all field grades. The Court recommends that this exercise should conclude within six months from the date of acceptance of this recommendation. Any outstanding issues in dispute to be referred back to the Court at that point.
In relation to the requirement by management for the acceptance of the Assistant Manager grade as an integral part of the line management, the Court acknowledges that agreement has been reached, with the assistance of a Facilitator on the reporting relationship of the Inspector grade to the Assistant Manager grade. The Court, having regard to the Revised Staff Chart contained in this Agreement, recommends that there should be full co-operation from all field grade staff (not only the Inspector grade) with this position and the managerial role and responsibilities to be carried out.
The Court recommends that the Working Party on Temporary Staff be reconvened with a view to concluding an agreement within four months from the date of acceptance of this recommendation. Any outstanding issues in dispute to be referred back to the Court at that point.
The Court recommends that the Union's contention regarding a shortfall in the Superannuation adjustment be more fully investigated by both sides and if necessary the matter can be referred back to the Court for investigation and recommendation.
2.7Incremental Credit for Temporary Field Grades
The Court recommends that this matter be dealt with in the context of the Working Party on Temporary Staff referred to at point 5 above and should be concluded in a manner consistent with the principles applying in the Local Authority Service.
Pending Agreement or exhaustion of the process referred to above, the Court recommends that temporary staff be assimilated to the 2nd point on the new scale.
The Court recommends that a monitoring group, comprising of 3 representatives of Management and 3 Union representatives be established to address any difficulties which may arise from the implementation of this restructuring agreement and to ensure its effective delivery. Any difficulties arising to be referred back to the Court by either party.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th February, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.