INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Public holidays overtime arrangements.
2. The dispute concerns a claim on behalf of the 7 workers who form the spare crew which provides holiday and absence cover for the 12 full-time personnel engaged in the wheeled bin collection service. The Union is seeking, on behalf of the 7 workers concerned, that they be given the same levels of overtime opportunities as their colleagues, arising from public holidays that fall on a Monday, the custom and practice, in Limerick, being that a collection service is provided on the Saturday before the Monday in question. The Union claims that the entitlement of the spare crew is covered by the "Wheeled Bin Agreement" concluded in March, 1996, (subsequently clarified). The Union claims, further, that in relation to disciplinary matters the spare crew is treated as part of a full crew of 19 and, therefore, they should be entitled to the same earnings potential as their full-time colleagues. The Corporation rejects the claim on the grounds that the Agreement dealt solely with Monday to Friday arrangements and did not impinge on Saturday work. The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 20th of May, 1999, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute, in Limerick, on the 3rd of November, 1999.
3. 1. The entitlement of the backup crew to the same earning potential as their 12 colleagues has been in place since the Wheeled Bin Agreement was entered into. They are also entitled to compensation for any losses sustained since 1993. This is supported by section 6 of the clarification of Public Holiday Payments, in relation to the spare crew, which states that if "the Corporation cannot furnish the operatives with the opportunity to earn the overtime in question (that is a full week's overtime) then clause (g) notwithstanding, the Corporation must pay the equivalent overtime in order not to fall foul of the commitment to guarantee equality of earning opportunities".
2. The Corporation argues that public holiday arrangements, when worked on a Saturday, do not fall within the terms of the Agreement. This is contradicted by the Corporation's own correspondence of 13th of March, 1997, in which it states that "in offering public holiday rates of pay for a day other than Monday to Friday. This is done on the basis that the arrangements for public holidays form part of the Wheeled Bin Agreement". The Corporation cannot change its interpretation of the Agreement as the need arises. There is a clear acceptance that work done in lieu of public holidays forms part of the Agreement and, therefore, the claimants must be treated accordingly.
3. The Corporation and the Labour Court have treated all 19 members of the Wheeled Service on an equal basis, as per the Corporation's submission which preceded Recommendation LCR15971. The Corporation argued that neither the Management nor the Union side differentiated between the spare crew and its colleagues. This principle should be applied in respect of the earning potential of all 19 crew members.
4. 1. While it is accepted that the Wheeled Bin Agreement of 1996 has a provision which allows for equal earning opportunity for the spare crew, the basis for such opportunity relates to a normal week's pay plus the bonus payment that the full-time crew receive. It does not relate to overtime payments paid to the full-time crew for working public holidays.
2. The normal arrangement for the working of public holidays is that the full-time crew receive a day off on the holiday and work the previous Saturday. As the Agreement states that it relates only to Monday to Friday working arrangements, the Union claim is outside the terms of the agreement.
3. The Unions' arguments that the Labour Court established the right to remunerative equality is rejected (LCR 19985, LCR 15971). The issue in question at the time was a disciplinary matter and is a totally different issue from that now in dispute.
4. The claim is cost-increasing and the Corporation could not sustain ever-increasing payroll costs while continuing to provide an efficient and effective service.
All parties to this dispute confirmed that the issue before the Court relates to the interpretation of the Agreement on the operation of the wheeled bin service concluded in March, 1996. It was further agreed that in accordance with the terms of that agreement the Court is required to make a binding determination as to the correct interpretation of the Agreement.
Having considered the submissions of the parties at the hearing and having reviewed the relevant provisions of the Agreement the interpretation of the Court is as follows:
The combined effect of Clauses 2 and 9 of the Agreement is that it provides that the spare crew are entitled to have earning opportunities equal to those of the operatives on the four trucks in respect of the Monday to Friday operation of the Wheeled Bin Service.
The plain and ordinary meaning of the terms of Clause 2 is to exclude from the scope of the Agreement earnings in respect of the operation of the service on days other than Monday to Friday. Since the earnings now in dispute relate to work performed on Saturday, the Agreement does not provide an entitlement to equalisation of earnings in respect of that work.
Accordingly, it is the determination of the Court that the Union's claim is not well-founded and should not be conceded.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd November, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.