INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR EDUCATIONAL AWARDS
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Pay parity of assistant registrars with senior lecturer grade.
2. The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of 8 assistant registrars employed by the National Council for Education Awards (NCEA) for the application of the recently revised salary scale of senior lecturer I grades employed in the Institutes of Technology (formerly Regional Technical Colleges).
In 1997, agreement was reached between the parties under Clause 2 of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) in which the NCEA accepted that the assistant registrar grade should be related for pay determination purposes to the senior lecturer grades employed in Regional Technical Colleges (RTC). Subsequently, the senior lecturer grade in the RTC concluded their PCW negotiations and the grade was re-titled senior lecturer II.
The Union is seeking the application of the increase to senior lecturer grades on the basis that when the assistant registrars concluded their pay deal under the PCW it was the Union's opinion that pay parity with the senior lecturer grade had been established.
The NCEA rejects the claim. Its position is that the claim is prohibited under P2000, and the government's policy pertaining to the NCEA as expressed in the recently enacted Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999, makes it inappropriate to consider the claim at this time.
The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 18th of August, 1999, under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 22nd of October, 1999.
3. 1. The report of a third party (IPC) set up under a previous Labour Court Recommendation concluded that the post of assistant registrar compared favourably with that of the head of department posts (senior lecturer I grade) in the RTC. The Union did not concur with the findings as it considered the appropriate link was with senior lecturer II. However, following negotiations the Union accepted the proposals agreed through the Labour Relations Commission which provided for the link with heads of department.
2. The proposals agreed with the NCEA included the acceptance that the assistant registrar grade should be related to senior lecturers in the RTC for the purposes of pay determination.
3. The assistant registrars' claim has a history going back over 15 years. Finally, agreement was reached between the parties in 1997 which clearly established pay parity with senior lecturer I grade.
4. Management's contention that the Union is seeking a further special increase under the PCW is rejected. The Union is seeking the implementation of the agreement reached in 1997. In the circumstances the Court is requested to interpret the agreement as a clear commitment by the NCEA to pay the claimants identical rates of pay to those of the appropriate grades in the Institutes of Technology.
4. 1. In the introduction to the agreement made with the Union under the provisions of the PCW, the NCEA accepted the submission made by the staff side that the assistant registrar grade should be related for pay determination purposes to the senior lecturer grades employed in the RTC. This must be understood to be a statement of principle, the practical application of which has to be determined by the circumstances prevailing from time to time.
2. Management's response to the claim for pay parity was determined by the recommendations of the report by the IPC in which the report compared assistant registrars with posts in the public sector. In relation to the head of departments (senior lecturer I) in the Institutes of Technology it considered that these two posts were reasonably close in respect of the demands that are placed on job holders in the context of the characteristics used in their evaluation. This conclusion that the posts are reasonably close does not establish a precise parity.
3. The Union's claim is precluded under the terms of Partnership 2000 (P2000). The national pay agreements do not provide an opportunity to address the claim at present.
4. It is management's view that the substantive issues relating to the grading and appropriate pay levels of assistant registrars should be revisited and revised in the context of the new structures resulting from the implementation of the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999. This Act, which it is understood the government intends to bring in to force as soon as possible, will lead to the dissolution of the NCEA, following the establishment of the Higher Education and Training Awards Council. The Council will take over all the functions, duties and responsibilities of the NCEA.
5. It would not be appropriate for the NCEA to make any decision that might have implications which might limit the Council from deciding such an issue on the merits of the situation created by the establishment of the new Council.
The Court is faced with conflicting views in relation to key elements of the agreement arrived at in 1997.
The Union argues that the agreement clearly states“that management side accepts the submission of the staff side that the assistant registrars should be related for pay determination purposes to the senior lecturer’s grade employed in the regional technical colleges”.The Union argues that both parties were aware, while parity was not definitively written down, that parity was being established.
Management are adamant that parity was not conceded in the 1997 agreement. They also argue that the NCEA made it clear at the time of the agreement that any future claim made on behalf of the assistant registrars would be responded to on the basis of its merits, prevailing Government policy on public health pay, and the existence of any national agreement relevant to same.
The Court, having considered all of the information, both written and oral submitted by the parties, is satisfied that parity was the issue being claimed and was conceded albeit it was for a number of sensitive reasons surrounding the negotiation not definitively termed parity.
The Court, therefore, recommends the NCEA enter into discussions with the Union and negotiate a settlement on this matter.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th November, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.