INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH HORSE RACING AUTHORITY
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning reorganisation of the staffing structure.
2. The dispute involves eight technical operatives whose duties involve the installation of the Tote system at each race course for every fixture. The existing central computer and all the necessary peripheral equipment is moved from track to track. The Company's strategic plan for the industry was published in 1996 and the major decisions taken were the undertaking of a major investment to replace existing information technology including the acquisition of a new computerised totalisator waging system for the Tote, and reducing the cost-base of the Tote by a rationalisation and restructuring programme which involved a reduction in the workforce. The contract to equip and maintain a new system was put to tender and the American company AutoTote was successful. The new system is expected to become operational in May. The Company proposes to make the eight technical operatives redundant. The Union claims that the workers should be retained working on the new system while maintaining their employment with the IHA. At local negotiations the Company made the following offers to the workers.
1. Transfer employment to AutoTote under the Transfer of Undertakings legislation.
2. A voluntary redundancy package which was increased from seven weeks' pay per year of service to nine weeks' pay per year of service (capped at three years' wages).
3. Remain in employment of the IHRA on the same salary level but in non-technical jobs.
The Union rejected the proposals. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 19th of April, 1999. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 20th of April, 1999. A Court hearing was held on the 28th of April, 1999. A letter recommendation was issued on the 5th of May, 1999.
1. The 8 workers concerned have been in the employment for a number of years. They have qualifications and expertise in the Tote. There are no other employments in the country requiring these qualifications. The workers should be retained in the employment of the IHA and seconded to the AutoTote on a red circle basis.
2. After the Company's strategic plan was announced, a joint working group was set up and was to have an input into all issues affecting workers. On a number of occasions the Union was advised that no decisions had been taken and it would be kept advised on an ongoing basis. This did not happen. The Company is in breach of Partnership 2000 (para. 9;8) in relation to the consideration of workers' interests in the context of major decisions affecting their employment . The Company has failed to honour its commitment to the working party, and has failed to honour the agreement carried over from the Racing Board which is covered by legislation establishing the IHA (Section 75). This agreement commits staff to work 25 Sundays, 35 Saturdays, 8 Public Holidays and 100 Mid-week race meetings. The workers concerned have a total service of 150 years. It is only reasonable that with their service and commitment they are treated with respect.
1. The Company has made very reasonable offers to the workers all of which were rejected. The Company cannot consider retaining the workers in the IHA and seconding them to AutoTote and continue to carry out their current duties. This option is not possible as AutoTote have now filled their labour requirements.
2. The Company has done everything possible to try to solve the problems including the options explored at conciliation, whereby the workers should accept the voluntary redundancy package and the Company would guarantee them as much work on race tracks as they would want, as casual workers selling tote products or, accept 70% of the voluntary redundancy package and the Company would guarantee a basic salary of £15,000 p.a. to service 210 race meetings per annum as sellers of tote products. These were rejected.
3. The Company's preferred option would be that the workers concerned, surplus to Company requirements, would accept the very generous voluntary redundancy package. The Company is willing to agree to any reasonable request in relation to retraining and would provide any help possible in regard to placement to new jobs.
4. The whole thrust of the capital investment in new technology and the rationalisation and re-structuring is to radically transform the Tote into a successful commercial business. The business cannot continue in its present form as it is not commercially viable.
Having considered the written and oral submissions of the parties the Court is of the view that the claim for technical staff to be retained in the employment of the IHA and seconded to AutoTote is not a viable option.
The Court notes that the employees directly involved in the rationalisation and restructuring of the Tote system have been offered an number of options.
The Court recommends that the proposals as outlined by the Industrial Relations Officer at conciliation should be amended as follows and be accepted by both sides.
- 100% of the voluntary redundancy package as agreed and as much work on race tracks as the claimants wish working as casual employees selling Tote products. This option to work on a casual basis to be available to the claimants up until their normal retirement age.
- 100% of the voluntary redundancy package plus a guarantee of work to service 210 race meetings per annum as sellers of Tote products ,with an annual salary of £17,000.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th May, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.