INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
KERRY COUNTY COUNCIL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning the pay of Craftsman Mates.
2. The dispute concerns twelve Craftsman Mates employed in the sanitary service department. The Craftsmen are on a higher pay scale. The Union claims that there is very little difference between the work carried out by the Craftsmen and Mates and that they should have a rate of pay which reflects that position. The Union's claim is for a skilled rate (details supplied to the Court). Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 25th of November, 1998. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 14th of January, 1999. A Court hearing was held in Tralee on the 13th of April, 1999.
3. 1. The workers concerned are paid the Mates rate of pay but have a far greater level of skill, flexibility and commitment than that envisaged for the rate of pay which is applied to the grade of Mates. The workers concerned have a very high level of responsibility in relation to the quick response to breakdowns, the delivery of quality service to the maintenance and upkeep of water, sewage, mains, as well as in some cases the laying of new water mains, the installation of meters, provision of connections for new houses and businesses. The workers' skills are on a par with those of the Craftsmen and at all times they are capable of and prepared to do the same work as Sanitary Service Craftsmen. They often act-up in the grade of Craftsman.
2. The workers concerned afford a significant level of flexibility and in the total absence of demarcation between them and Craftsmen. Concession of the craftsman's rate to the workers would reflect in some way the enormous responsibility they carry. The change in rate of pay and scale which the Union is claiming on behalf of these workers has no repercussive claim implications as it is unique to Kerry County Council and is paid to workers for the carrying out of skilled work in other departments. Kerry County Council has systems in place for recognising workers who are performing work of a skilled and semi-skilled nature.
These are accommodated by inclusion either in the scale which the Union claims or in a range of other scales such as the skilled rate or the semi-skilled rate which would equate with the road foreman's national grade in Kerry County Council for the skilled rate and the ganger's rate for the semi-skilled rate. The Union is endeavouring to ensure that the Council will continue to have the maximum level of co-operation and flexibility from the workers concerned, and is, therefore, seeking the increased scale of pay for them.
4. 1. The Craftsman Mates are paid the nationally determined wage scales for Mates and in addition enjoy a generous meal allowance. Substantial overtime is earned (details supplied to the Court).
2. Each Craftsman's Mate is assigned to work with a Craftsman and is under the direct supervision and control of the Craftsman who is supplied with a van to transport himself and his assigned Mate(s) to the job. The range of activities and tasks performed is determined by local custom and practice, the Craftsman Mates Productivity Agreement, 1977, Local Craftsman and Craftsman Mates Agreement, 1978 and the Productivity (Flexibility) Analogue Reviews, 1995, 1997.
3. The present Local Authority and Health Board Craft Grades and grading structure have emerged from negotiations which began in 1977 at national level between the craft group of unions and the employing bodies. The important matters which emerged from those negotiations which affect this issue are the establishment of the Craftsman and Craftsman Mates grading structure arising from that Agreement. The grade of Craftsmen Mate between formally established Kerry and most other Local Authorities in 1978. A National Pay Scale was determined for the grades of Craftsman and Craftsman Mate. The Craftsman Mate Scale was determined at 80% of the Craftsman Scale at that time and this relativity has been maintained ever since. The rates of pay have been revised in line with nationally agreed negotiations and accordingly it is not open to individual Local Authorities to vary the rate of pay for these grades.
4. There are a total of 122 Craftsman Mates employed by the Local Authorities throughout the country. Any concession to Mates in Country Kerry would lead to claims on behalf of all other Mates throughout the State for similar pay rates. The concession of this claim would have serious repercussions far outside of this Council's employees because of the pay relativity arrangements.
4. The claim, while termed a re-grading claims, is in effect a claim for an increase in the basic pay for Craftsman Mates. As such, the claim is contrary to Government Pay Policy and the terms of the Partnership 2000 agreement.
The Court considered both the written and oral presentations made by the parties.
The Court rejects the claim for an increase in the rate of pay for craftsman "mates".
However, the Court notes that the parties were agreeable to enter into discussions on a means of upskilling these craftsman "mates" so that their skills may be recognised. The Court recommends that these discussions should continue with a view to organising suitable training to achieve such upskilling and possible recognition for the skills held.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th May, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.