INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
NATIONAL BUS & RAIL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay Increase
2. The claim is on behalf of approximately 840 permanent way-operatives i.e. plate layers, patrol gangers and mobile gangers, who are involved in the maintenance/renewal of rail tracks (details of the work done by the 3 grades were supplied to the Court). The Unions listed 10 items in the claim, but the main issue concerns a 30% increase in the basic rate of pay for the workers co-operation with contractors employed by the Company. The Unions also listed the following items as part of their claim:
2. Meal allowance to be increased from £3.30 to £6.00 per day for every day for all staff without restriction.
3. Service pay which is presently £2.00 to be increased to £10.00 per week.
4. Person-in-charge-of-possession allowance to be increased to that of a B class Inspector's rate - £296.38 - when carrying out this duty.
5. Mobile gangers to have a new rate of pay equivalent to B class Inspector's rate.
6. Voluntary severance to be available for older staff.
7. Day and night expenses to be increased from the present rate of £9.27 to £16.00 per night.
8. A lump sum lead in payment of £2,000 pounds.
9. Loss of earnings to be paid in line with formula in recent Labour Court Recommendation.
10. Payment for Saturday rest day when staff are required to work Saturday Night-Sunday Morning.
Discussions on the present dispute have been ongoing since 1995. In July, 1999, the Company issued a set of proposals which included the following items:
(1) initial maximum 54 hour average working week, followed by a 48 hour maximum working week at the end of the investment programme in 2003,
(2) maximum 6 day week,
(3) greater utilisation of contractors,
(4) increased availability for night time working on a formalised basis,
(5) flexible working day between 7.00 and 18.00,
(6) phased integration of patrol gangs into mobile gangs.
In return, the Company proposed a phased increase of basic pay of 20% - an immediate 10%, and a further 10% no later than 2 years after the initial implementation. The 20% would be inclusive of 5% of the National Agreements . The Unions put a counter proposal which included a 25% increase on basic pay, and agreement on a 48 hour maximum working week. The Company was to respond within 2 weeks, but did not do so for 6 weeks.
In September, the Company returned to its original proposals as listed above, but agreed to pay the 5% National Agreement (3% of PCW and 2% of Partnership 2000). The proposals were rejected, and the dispute was then referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference took place on the 7th of December, 1999. The Unions in turn lodged their claim of the 10 items listed. The conciliation conference reconvened on the 31st of January, 2000 but, as no progress was made, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 16th of February, 2000.
3. 1. The permanent-way operatives are the lowest paid of all the operative grades in the Company. The basic wages per week are as follows: plate layers - £210.59, patrol ganger - £227.09 and mobile ganger - £227.09.
2. The duties of the workers concerned are highly responsible, and there is also an element of danger involved, something acknowledged by a former divisional engineering of the Company.
3. The workers are required to work a considerable amount of overtime just to maintain a decent wage. They are becoming increasingly frustrated by the long delay in resolving the issue.
4. The Company was due to respond to the Unions' proposals by the 9th of August, 1999. It did not do so for at least another 4 weeks, and then it was with a new negotiating team. This was the main reason that the talks broke down.
- 5. The workers are becoming increasingly frustrated as they are assisting contractors who are performing work that is proper to the rail staff.
4. 1. During negotiations with the Unions, circumstances have changed in that a sizeable track investment programme is underway. This will involve significant augmentation of temporary/contract staff numbers, and the use of contractors will be sustained for an estimated further 3-5 years.
2. Because of the increase in the number of contractors, the Company's original proposals cannot be fully pursued. The Company's modified proposals would involve a cumulative pay increase of 27%, which the Company believes is reasonable.
3. When the investment programme is complete, the numbers of staff will reduce to a level appropriate to new norms of maintenance requirements.
4. The estimated average annual earnings during 1999, ranged from £15,110 for plate layers to £19,419 for mobile gangers
The Court is conscious of the obligation on the Company to reduce maximum working hours to the level proposed in its productivity proposals, so as to comply with European and National Legislation, which in turn is based on health and safety considerations.
The Court recommends that the full range of proposals put forward by the Company on 22nd of July, 1999, should be accepted, subject to the following modifications:
In addition to the 5% increase already paid, a further increase of 12.5% should be paid on acceptance of this recommendation. A further increase of 7.5% should be paid nine months after the date of acceptance, subject to satisfactory compliance with the provisions as to flexibility, including cooperation with contractors and the reduction in maximum working hours to 48.
A Monitoring Group comprising representatives of Management and the Unions should be established to oversee the smooth and effective implementation of new working arrangements. This Monitoring Group should be enabled to deal with any difficulties encountered by individuals or groups in relation to implementation.
Any such difficulties which are not resolved by the Monitoring Group, should be referred to the Court for final adjudication.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th March, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.