INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS IN IRELAND
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Re-hearing arising from Labour Court Recommendation No. LCR15996.
2. In October, 1998, a dispute concerning the College's proposal to contract out its portering, cleaning and maintenance facilities to various specialist companies was the subject of a Labour Court investigation. In LCR No. 15996, which was issued on the 11th November, 1998, the Court recommended as follows:
"The Court is not satisfied that meaningful negotiations have taken place so far. While recognising that the College has an obligation to remain viable, it must also acknowledge the concerns of its staff.
The Court acknowledges the Union's intentions to engage in immediate negotiations. Therefore, the Court recommends that such negotiations should commence with an open agenda on all issues, including those referred to the Court. If the issues are not resolved within six weeks from the date of receipt of the Court's decision then the issues should be referred back to the Court for a recommendation.
In relation to the issue of the three cleaning staff, it is not clear that a commitment was given to them, that their jobs would be held open indefinitely, from the documentation supplied by the Union."
Subsequently, the parties held extensive discussions under the chairmanship of an independent mediator. Proposals put forward by the Union (details supplied to the Court) which it claimed would represent significant cost efficiencies including staff reductions were rejected by Management. A proposal of the mediator (which the College was willing to consider) which provided for the option of a secondment situation with Group 4 Security that would involve the continuation of employment with the College by the portering section and the offer of a redundancy package to the maintenance and cleaning section was rejected by the Union particularly with reference to the clause relating to porters being replaced by contract staff following natural wastage or redundancy. As agreement could not be reached the College referred the dispute to the Labour Court on the 25th November, 1998. The Court investigated the dispute on the 9th December, 1998. A letter recommendation was issued on the 21st December, 1998.
1. The Union endeavoured to address the issue of Management' requirements to achieve cost efficiencies and the need for specialist management. Its acceptance of a reduction in staff from 21 to 15 with other measures, together with the acceptance that workers would be prepared to be responsible to any specialist management introduced by the College, is more than a reasonable response by workers to address these issues.
2. Portering workers have agreed to take on responsibility for security in the College, to operate closed circuit television etc. and undertake security training. These commitments can be developed in the best interest of improving the standard of service provided.
3. The Union has made a realistic response to the College and is prepared to take on board change on the basis of providing an improved service through continued direct employment.
1. Despite intensive negotiations and the College's willingness to consider the Union's proposals they did not address the real issues of employee flexibility, service effectiveness, management difficulties and cost. The College indicated its willingness to consider the option proposed by the mediator provided the porters
a) Agree to secondment and be managed on site by Group 4 Security.
b) Agree to a fundamental review of working practices and rostering arrangements.
c) Receive security, first aid and fire fighting training.
d) Agree to be replaced with contract staff following natural wastage or voluntary redundancies.
The College was prepared to put in safeguards to address portering concerns e.g. overtime. But this offer was rejected by SIPTU on November, 24th.
2. The College finds itself in a position whereby, its right to manage, in accordance with employment legislation, has been frustrated.
3. Management recognises that the workers affected have concerns on the matter and has endeavoured to alleviate those concerns to the best of its ability.
4. The Union must recognise the College's right to manage and the assurance that have been made by Management with respect to the workers concerned and the transfer of undertakings legislation.
Since Labour Court Recommendation LCR15996 this issue before the Court has been the subject of negotiations under an independent chairmanship. A set of proposals was presented on 23rd November 1998 to both sides which included the option of a secondment arrangement and the continuation of employment with the College by the portering section, and the offer of redundancy packages to the maintenance and cleaning sections. The Court considers that these proposals should be amended as set out below and form the basis of a settlement of this dispute.
The Court recommends the following:-
Portering, maintenance and cleaning staff should be offered the choice of
(i) being seconded to a specialist management company, with guarantees of a continuation of their contract of employment with the College, on their existing terms and conditions of employment,
(ii) a voluntary redundancy package,
(iii) the option of transferring to the contract company.
Portering staff must agree to comply with a fundamental review of their rostering arrangements and work practices and must give a commitment to undergo security, first aid and fire-fighting training to the level required.
The secondment arrangements to apply only to existing portering, maintenance and cleaning staff, contract staff to be employed following natural wastage.
The Court makes these recommendations as a package and are subject to acceptance as such.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.