INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
RADIO TELEFIS EIREANN
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR988/99/GF
2. The dispute concerns two workers who have been employed with the Company, in the capacity of Chargehand Stagehand, since 1979. From 1979, in recognition of extra responsibilities taken on, the two workers were paid an allowance of £375 per annum, which was permanent, pensionable and ranking.
In 1993, it was decided that a restructuring of the Staging Section would be carried out, which would be finalised through a binding finding of Special Adjudication Committee (SAC) which was established arising from Labour Court Recommendation LCR13562 (February, 1992). The SAC established a salary structure for Chargehands, and 7 such posts were created. The Union claims that the allowance being paid to those workers already working in the capacity of Chargehand (3 at the time) was not taken into account by the SAC when they were placed on the new salary scale. The Company's view is that their allowance would have been subsumed into their new scale, but that due to a clerical error, confirmation of that was not sent to them.
The workers questioned the loss of their allowance and, following 2 hearings of the Company's Industrial Relations Tribunal (IRT), the Company paid them a lump sum of £1,000 in recognition of the Company's having omitted to inform the Chargehands of the loss of their allowance. The workers were not satisfied with this payment and the Company, subsequently, proposed a further once-off payment of £300. This was rejected by the Union. Following industrial action, a further internal investigation was carried out into the matter by the Director of T.V. Facilities and the Director of Personnel. Arising from this, it was recommended, in October, 1999, that the claimants be granted a permanent, pensionable, personal allowance of £1,000, plus a once-off ex-gratia lump-sum of £1,000 each. This was unacceptable to the Union and the matter was, subsequently, the subject of a Rights Commissioner's investigation, arising from which he recommended that "the recent offer be improved to a sum of £1,300 which will be permanent, pensionable and ranking, in full and final settlement of this claim".
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation was appealed by both parties to the Labour Court, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeals on the 18th May 2000.
3. 1. The Company has unilaterally removed the workers' Chargehand Allowance and has fundamentally altered their statutory Terms and Conditions of employment, with the immediate effect of reducing their wages and, consequently, impacting detrimentally on their pension entitlements.
2. The Company's Personnel Executive has accepted as a fact that the Company has mistakenly withdrawn the workers' permanent, pensionable, ranking allowance. However, the compensation recommended is insufficient. The two workers are entitled to be fully compensated for all losses they have suffered as a result of the Company's unauthorised actions. In particular, they should be paid all allowances due and owing since the date of their withdrawal and they should be assured that those allowances will be taken into account for the purposes of pension calculations. They should also be awarded an ex-gratia lump sum to compensate for the distress, inconvenience, loss and damage they have suffered over an unnecessarily protracted period.
3. 1. At the time of the creation of the 4 new Chargehand posts, the Company assumed that the existing allowance would be subsumed into the new salary scaly. It was only due to a clerical error that the workers concerned were not so informed.
2. The recommendation of the Rights Commissioner could have consequences for the status, standing and credibility of the IRT as a body jointly-established by RTE and the unions for the resolution of disputes internally. In addition, it could set a serious precedent of IRT recommendations and decisions being appealed, thereby undermining the position of the IRT as a tribunal of last resort.
3. Not only did the workers involved not suffer any loss as a result of the binding recommendation of the SAC, they received a further payment of £1,000 through the IRT recommendation.
4. Any further cost-concessions on this issue must be set against the current difficult financial situation of the Company.
This is an appeal by both sides against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR88/99GF.
The Court has taken into consideration all aspects of this claim. The Court accepts that both claimants were appointed as Chargehands in 1979 and have continued to be Chargehands. Disagreement has arisen as to whether the Special Adjudication Committee took cognisance of the special allowance, which the Chargehands were in receipt of in 1994, when it made its recommendation for the introduction of the new Chargehands' salary scale.
The Court finds that the procedure used internally in 1999, to investigate and report on the issue, was a valid mechanism to address this long-standing claim (as per Union submission, Appendix 7). Accordingly,in settlement of this dispute,the Court decides that the offer made in October, 1999 should be reinstated by the Company and should be accepted by the Union, in full and final settlement of this claim.
Accordingly, the Rights Commissiones's Recommendation is hereby overturned.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th June, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.