INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR412/00/JH.
2. The dispute concerns the Union's claim that management's decision to create and fill the position of team leader in Dundalk is in breech of the Company/Union agreement. It argues that the proposals in relation to craftspersons which included the provision for the creation of the position of team leader were rejected by the majority of the craft grade. The Company's position is that it has agreement with the ICTU group of Unions.
The matter was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. The Rights Commissioner's conclusion and recommendation are as follows:-
"The uncertainly and confusion surrounding the level of agreement between the ICTU Group of Unions and the Company was unique. Mr. Quigley demonstrated at the hearing that he had consistently pursued the matter internally in the ICTU. It is also clear that the Area Manager in Dundalk was given instructions regarding the implementation of the agreement, which while different to Mr. Quigley's position, he had no option but to follow.
Once the job was advertised the employees at Dundalk could have objected to the filling of the post. They did not, so therefore the issue moves to the actual filling of the position. It is well-accepted practice that once the process of filling a vacancy is conducted fairly then the individuals who are unsuccessful and complain afterwards have no reasonable cause. Again the employees if agreeing by silence to the filling of the post could have objected to an interview process. There would after all be no need for an interview if seniority were the only criterion to be taken into account.
Based on the evidence presented at the hearing and the reasons set out in the conclusion above, I do not recommend concession of the worker's claim."
The worker was named in the recommendation.
The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation was appealed by the Union to the Labour Court on the 19th of May, 2000 under Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal on the 2nd of November, 2000
3. 1. The Company's creation and filling of the position of team leader is in breech of the Company/Union agreement. In the event that the Company considered that it had an agreement and that it had the right to unilaterally create and fill the position, it was wrong in its judgement that the worker concerned was less suitable and less qualified than the successful candidate.
2. The worker is the most senior of the 4 applicants having 38 years service in the Company. He has an unblemished disciplinary record and he was the only applicant with qualifications in both the fitting and mechanic trades.
3. The proposals in relation to craftspersons which provided for the creation of the position of team leader were rejected by the majority of the craft grade.
4. Agreement was not reached and this is borne out by the following:-
(a) In its letter to the Company in September, 1998, the ICTU Group expressed its view that it would be unwise to proceed with implementation in view of the lack of clarity of the SIPTU position.
(b) Management's letter of the 24th of March, 2000 to the ICTU Group when it refers to the parties meeting of the 21st of March, 2000, to discuss a number of matters including the implementation of the 1998 maintenance agreement.
4. 1. The Union's reasons for contesting the appointment of a team leader in Dundalk were twofold:-
(1) The ICTU Group of Unions had not agreed the terms of the proposed agreement which would give rise to the position.
(2) If the Company believed that there was agreement to fill the position then seniority should have been be the only criterion.
In relation to (1) above the Group Secretary's letter of acceptance on behalf
of the ICTU Trade Union Group was received by the Company on the 25th of May, 1998.
In so far as (2) is concerned the Maintenance Staff Agreement of 1998 specifically
provided for the appointment of team leaders and for the selection of such staff on a
seniority and suitability basis.
2. The Company is satisfied that the advertising and filling of the team leader's job in Dundalk garage was in line with similar garage supervisory positions throughout the Company and was conducted in a reasonable and fair manner.
In addition the make-up of the interview board ensured impartiality and the selection of the most suitable candidate. In all these circumstances the Company request the Court to uphold the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation and to reject the Union's appeal.
Having carefully considered the submissions of the parties the Court is satisfied that the Recommendation of the Rights Commissioner should be upheld.
The appeal is disallowed and the Recommendation of the Rights Commissioner is affirmed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.