INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
BORD NA MONA
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's recommendation IR312/98CW concerning a dispute over the status of a worker.
2. In 1988, Bord na Mona and the Group of Unions entered into the Partnership for Progress Agreement (details supplied to the Court), which led to the establishment of Enterprise Units and Autonomous Working Groups for peat production.
The dispute concerns the appointment of Team Leaders to a new Autonomous Enterprise Unit in the Derryhinch/Drumman area of the Board's Derrygreenagh Works. This new unit came into operation in April, 1998, following the amalgamation of two existing Autonomous Units due to declining acreage available for production. The combined Team Leader manning in these Units consisted of two craft, two supervisors and three general operative. Agreement was reached that the new combined unit would operate with six Team Leaders, comprising of two from each of the Team Leader categories. This meant that one of the general operative Team Leaders would not be a Team Leader in the new unit.
Local level discussions took place at which management proposed that one of the three Team Leaders concerned volunteer to be assigned to a vacant Team Leader position in the Cavemount area of the Derrygreenagh Works. Management's proposal was unacceptable to the workers.
Subsequently management named the employees selected as Team Leaders. It claims that the selection was made in accordance with paragraph 3 of the agreed framework of Autonomous Units. The Union argues that the worker concerned has the longest service in Drumman and should have been the last person in his category to be removed from the position of Team Leader. As agreement could not be reached the matter was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. The Rights Commissioner's findings and recommendation are as follows:-
- "I do not find that there is any reflection on the ability of the
worker to carry out the duties of a Team Leader. I do not
accept the seniority or LIFO has any relevance in selection
for Team Leader. I believe that in this instance there is no
reason why the Bord should accept that the worker was
victimised at all.
I recommend that the Company offers and the worker accepts
the sum of £2,000 in addition to his entitlement in settlement of
The Rights Commissioner's recommendation was appealed by both parties to the Labour Court under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeals on the 17th of December, 1998.
3. 1. As the general worker with the longest service in Drumman, the worker should have been the last person in his category to be removed from the position of Team Leader. No unique circumstances exist to justify a departure from the LIFO procedure.
2. When it was necessary to reduce the number of Team Leaders in two Autonomous Enterprise Units in Boora Works in 1994 (West Drinagh) and 1996 (East Drinagh) it was agreed between Union and management in accordance with the last in first out procedure.
3. The dismantling of the Drumman Unit and the removal of the worker from his position as Team Leader pre-empted the outcome of on-going Union/Management discussions.
4. The dismantling of the Unit and the re-selection of Team Leaders to head up the new unit was simply a device designed to exclude the worker from his position as Team Leader.
5. There is no provision in the Autonomous Enterprise Unit Framework Agreement which provides for the dismantling of units nor has there been a previous occasion in which a unit was dismantled to effect a reduction in Team Leader numbers.
6. The setting up of the new unit did not comply with the agreed procedures set out in the Framework Agreement.
7. Having regard to all the circumstances as outlined, the Union contends that the removal of the worker from his position as a Team Leader was unreasonable and unfair and is seeking that he be restored to his position as Team Leader and compensated for any loss of wages he has incurred since the Drumman Unit was dismantled.
4. 1. Management rejects the Union's claim on the basis that:
- the selection criteria for Team Leaders are as outlined in paragraph 3 of the
agreed Framework of Autonomous Units;
- there is no agreement with the Union that service overrides these criteria;
- the selection decision made by the Derrygreenagh management was based on
an objective assessment of the range of skills, experience and team
cohesiveness necessary to operate an effective unit; and
- management must retain the right to select Team Leaders in accordance with
the agreed criteria.
2. There is nothing in the circumstances of this case to justify the payment of an additional £2,000 as recommended by the Rights Commissioner. Management in selecting Team Leaders for the new unit complied with the selection criteria as outlined in paragraph 3 of the agreed Framework of Autonomous Units.
3. The compensation formula used gives the employee concerned the value of a month's drop in basic pay multiplied by the number of years service with the Board plus a week's pay. This formula has been endorsed and utilised in a large variety of cases over a number of years. In the worker's case the value of compensation will amount to £6,500.
4. The Board respectfully, therefore, requests the Court to overturn the Rights Commissioner's decision to recommend an additional £2,000 compensation in this case.
The Court is satisfied that there is no procedural agreement in position to deal with a situation such as the one that arose in this case.
The Court notes that this issue is now being addressed by the parties for future cases.
The Court having considered all the information supplied, and in the circumstances of this particular case only, upholds the Rights Commissioner's recommendation and rejects both appeals.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th January, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.