INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DUBLIN PORT COMPANY
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Pay increase.
2. The 18 workers concerned are employed by the Company as crane drivers. During the course of a series of agreements which have run since 1984, the cranemen have operated a compulsory overtime arrangement for which an allowance of £45.57 per week was paid. The most recent overtime agreement which was 5 years expired on the 15th of February, 1999. The agreement provides that:-
"It is accepted that the nature of the Board's operation
makes the working of overtime necessary and while
every effort will be made to facilitate the domestic
and social arrangements of the cranemen, each craneman
guarantees to work overtime as required."
In the period January/April, 1999 discussions took place at which the Company sought to extend the agreement for a further 5 years and offered to increase the allowance to £60 per week. The Union rejected management's offer. It argues that the workers' overtime earnings are not reflected in the calculation for pensionable pay and is seeking an increase of £3 per hour on the basic rate of pay. Management's position is that any increase in basic pay must be related to a comprehensive productivity agreement.
The matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference took place on the 14th of April, 1999. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 22nd of April, 1999 under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th of May, 1999.
3. 1. The Union is concerned that the high levels of overtime worked is not reflected in the crane drivers salary for pension purposes.
2. The 24-hour cover arrangement has enabled the Company to make substantial savings by the provision of the service with a limited number of crane drivers. Other crane drivers in similar employment are employed on a shift basis.
3. Crane operators in Dublin generally have received substantial increases in their rates of pay. It is reasonable for the crane drivers concerned to expect a basic rate which is paid elsewhere and which reflects the workers level of work and responsibility.
4. The Court is requested to recommend that the 5 year overtime agreement be replaced with an increase in basic pay of £3 per hour.
4. 1. The cranemen's claim for an increase on their basic hourly rate would result in an increase of 62% on their basic rate. Dublin Port Company could not concede this claim on any basis and certainly not solely for the continuance of a compulsory overtime agreement.
2. The Company believes that it has made every reasonable effort to resolve this issue and to address the cranemen's claim for an increase in basic pay. As with all other groups in the Company, any issue in basic pay must be related to a comprehensive productivity agreement.
3. Concession of the cranemen's claim for an increase in their basic weekly rate of 62% solely for the continuance of a compulsory overtime agreement would have massive repercussive effects on other employees in Dublin Port. Negotiations have been completed with other groups resulting in increases in basic pay and negotiations are ongoing with other groups at the present time but all the negotiations are in the context of an overall comprehensive productivity agreement.
4. Cranemen have now decided as a group that effectively there is a ban on overtime after 5.00 p.m. This effective ban is contrary to the Union letter of the 26th of March, 1999 which indicated that the cranemen would be available for overtime on an optional basis. Their action is also in breach of their current 1982 agreement regarding the provision of overtime and is also in breach of the "goodwill" agreement negotiated in the Labour Relations Commission on the 15th of May, 1998.
5. The action by the cranemen is potentially very damaging to customers' confidence in Dublin Port. In the first 3 months of this year there was an increase of over 170,000 tonnes in bulk solid cargoes through the Port cranes. This increase was largely driven by newly won business. Over the past 6 years or so this mode has shown a slower rate of increase than other modes and the action by cranemen will put this business at risk.
6. The Company requests the Court to recommend that the cranemen resume normal working in order to allow for discussions to be finalised on a comprehensive productivity agreement.
A serious situation has arisen due to crane drivers not working overtime after 5.00 p.m. and at weekends. The company claim that many ships have been delayed or have had to be diverted and a number were cancelled. If the situation continues it will have implications for workers involved in this claim and other employments associated with the port.
It is clear to the Court that there has been a very high dependency on overtime to carry out the normal day to day functions of the port. This is an undesirable practice for any organisation but particularly one that is facing the kind of difficulties that Dublin Port will face in the next few years. The system of organising working time needs to be radically restructured to bring it in line with more modern day practices.
This need for restructuring is in the interest of both management and workers to plan for the sustainability of the port for the future.
The Court recommends that the parties concerned in this dispute should, as a matter of urgency, set about agreeing clear objectives and strategies in order to meet the challenges facing the port. This should be done via a restructuring plan which should be realistic and ensure that goals are attainable. The restructuring plan needs to be given the commitment it deserves from both sides and must be completed by at the latest the 1st of September, 1999. If, at that time there are any outstanding issues, the parties may refer such issues back to the Court. The Court will deal with these issues expeditiously.
In the interim period, the Court recommends that:
- crane operators to resume overtime as per 12th July, 1994 Agreement,
- the company to pay £70 per week allowance for the interim period,
- any increases arising from the structural agreement to be retrospective to 14th April 1999.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th May, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Gerardine Buckley, Court Secretary.