INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
GROUP 4 SECURITAS
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Travel, boot & shirt allowances.
2. The Company employs approximately 450 security guards at various locations throughout the country in the provision of manned security services to a range of clients.
The dispute concerns the Union's claim for the application of travel, boot and shirt allowances to approximately 110 security guards employed in Limerick. In late, 1994, the parties reached agreement in respect of outstanding issues under the PESP/PCW. The agreement set out the terms and conditions of employment relating to new entrants. Travel, boot and shirt allowances have not been applied to new entrants from that date.
The Union claims that the Company without agreement changed the conditions of employment of employees who joined the Company since 1994. The Company rejects the claim. It argues that the 1994 agreement abolished the payment of travel, boot and shirt allowances for all new employees from that date.
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 20th of April, 1999, under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Limerick on the 31st of August, 1999. The earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. Agreement was reached in 1994, which provided for changes in the terms and conditions of employment for new entrants. At no stage did the Union agree to abolish travel, boot and shirt allowances.
2. The Company has implemented changes without consultation or agreement. It looked for specific changes in the rates of pay of new entrants. No reference is made in the agreement to travel, boot and shirt allowances.
3. The Union entered into the 1994 agreement on the pay and conditions of employment of the new entrants to ensure that the Company would be in a position to compete in the marketplace.
4. The 1994 agreement was only viewed as an interim agreement, as it was expected that the Joint Labour Committee for the Security Industry would be in place by the end of 1997. To date this has not been implemented and the Company has consistently refused to negotiate a new procedural agreement, despite the understanding the Union was given in 1994 that a much broader agreement would be in place for employees after 1997.
5. The Company has acted in a manner that is contrary to good industrial relations practice. In the circumstances, the Union is seeking that the Court recommends that the conditions of the workers concerned be brought back in line with their colleagues and that any monies due be paid retrospectively.
4. 1. The 1994 agreement abolished the payment of travel, boot and shirt allowances for all new employees in the Company as and from that date. The only employees who receive this payment are those who were employed on the old pre '94 terms and conditions. Approximately 130 people are employed in the Limerick branch of which only 20 enjoy the old set of terms and conditions of employment.
2. This is a cost increasing claim and is, therefore, barred under the terms of Partnership 2000. The payments sought were negotiated with the Union in good faith at the end of 1994, and this agreement was freely entered into by both sides.
3. The terms of the agreement are quite clear, the first page outlines the proposals in respect of the then existing employees and refers to an attached page which outlines the new entrance terms and conditions for new entrants. It was clearly understood by the negotiating team on both sides that anything not included in the second page would not be paid.
4. The competitor pressures that the Company faces have not diminished. Currently the contract rates available to the Company in Limerick and elsewhere are less than those that were available at the start of the 90's. This downward pressure on contract rates has resulted from a variety of reasons but they may be traced to the deregulation of the market which resulted from a High Court decision in 1991.
5. The potential knock-on effects of concession of this claim in this area would be disastrous for the Company and would put in jeopardy the employment of many of its current employees as the Company could not sustain the increased costs that would be involved on a national basis.
6. The terms of the 1994 agreement were clearly understood by all. No complaints regarding payment of travel, boot and shirt allowances were made by the Union for some 2½ years after the implementation of that deal and this claim clearly constitutes an attempt to alter the terms of the deal subsequent to its acceptance and implementation by the Company. Therefore, the Court is requested to reject the Union's claim.
The Court finds it regrettable that the parties to the agreement of 1994 appeared to have negotiated at cross purposes. The Company considered that it was negotiating a comprehensive agreement for new staff. The Union was of the opinion that it was negotiating amendments to the existing agreement.
The Court notes that before the negotiations commenced in respect of the Limerick area, agreement had been concluded in the other areas in which the Company operates to the abolition of the allowances now in dispute. Against that background it appears unlikely that the Company would have agreed to its retention in Limerick.
In these circumstances the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st September, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.