INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Compensation for loss of promotional opportunity.
2. The dispute concerns 71 workers who are employed as clerical/administrative staff. The Union's claim is for compensation in respect of loss of promotional opportunities and the erosion of a career path for Clerical/ Administration workers. The grading structure in the Company ranges from Clerical Officer (C.O ) to Senior Administrative Officer (S.A.O.)- the most senior clerical/administrative grade. The promotional grade above that level is Assistant Secretary grade. The Union claims that this grade is being continually eroded; that there were four in 1990 and now there are none. In 1996 the incumbent Company Secretary assumed the additional responsibilities of Financial Controller on that office holder's retirement. The Union assumed it was a temporary assignment and claims it was not informed that the situation would continue and that an accounting qualification would be necessary to apply for the position. The Secretary/Financial Controller was designated Chief Administrative Manager in recent years. He is due to retire shortly and the position was recently advertised. Due to the requirement for an accounting qualification only two of the clerical/ administrative staff were qualified to apply. The Union contends that if it had been given sufficient notice of this requirement, interested staff would have had sufficient time to gain an accountancy qualification. The Union is seeking that the erosion of promotional opportunities be addressed by the appointment of six clerical staff at Assistant Secretary level and the filling of consequential vacancies. The Company does not accept that the promotional opportunities for staff have worsened by the recent appointments, stating that both the Chief Administration Manager - Designate and the newly appointed Assistant Financial Controller are former members of the clerical/administrative staff who had, in recent
years availed of the Company's Staff Development Programme to achieve the necessary qualifications. The Company has in successive years reduced the numbers of employees in all categories. In all agreements reached over this time there has been a compensatory increase in wages/salary. Consequential reduction/amalgamation of management positions is a natural reflection of these reductions. The Company claims that the appointment of six Assistant Secretaries is not feasible. In a planned management restructure it has a requirement to develop positions at sub-senior management levels, senior to SAO grade, and will in the first instance offer these to clerical/ administrative staff who meet necessary criteria. The offer was rejected by the Union. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 28th November,2000, but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 20th February, 2001. A Court hearing was held on the 5th April, 2001.
3. 1. The policies adopted by Management over the past number of years have seriously eroded the career path of the workers concerned. This is demonstrated by the reduction of Assistant Secretaries positions from four to none. The work of Assistant Secretaries is still being done by workers at the grades of S.A.O. and below, combined with additional roles and responsibilities arising from the Change Management Programme.
2. The manner of the filling of the Chief Administration Manager-Designate post also illustrates a lack of a career path for the claimants. This was a position which was open to and aspired to by all workers. This is no longer the case due to the imposition of an accounting qualification. This policy was implemented with little or no consultation with the Union despite a provision for such consultation in the 1992 Agreement.
3. There is no tangible recognition of the role that the claimants have played in the success of the Company in the period 1990 to date.
4. The Company's offer, which recognises the validity of the Union's claim, is derisory in the context of the negative impact that the policies followed by Management have had on the workers' career paths, development and motivation.
5. The situation which happened in 1996 with the retirement of the Financial Controller was fortuitous for the Company in that the Secretary had an accounting qualification, allowing the Company to amalgamate the roles. This highlights the overall lack of any policy in relation to filling senior Management roles in Dublin Port Company.
6. The Union presented a paper to Management in December,2000, titled "New Roles, Responsibilities, and Opportunities for the Development of the Clerical and Administrative Staff and Dublin Port Company". This highlights where the positions of Assistant Secretary could be established. No response was received from Management to this document.
4. 1. The structure of Management in the Company must be the prerogative of Management. The Company has a duty to ensure that it's management has the necessary resources, skills and experience and/or qualifications in order for it to discharge it's duties under the Harbours Act.
2. The Union represents Clerical/Administrative staff up to S.A.O. grade. It has an agreement with the Company for manning/grading up to this level and the Company has abided by this agreement.
3. Under the Company's Act ,the Financial Controller is required to have been admitted to a recognised body of accountants. In amalgamating the roles of Secretary and Financial Controller as Chief Administrative Manager (C.A.M.) this requirement transferred to the new position. This was clearly signalled when the then Secretary assumed the responsibilities of the Financial Controller in 1996 and when the position of C.A.M. was subsequently created.
4. The Company does not accept that the promotional opportunities of the claimants were diminished as a result of the appointment of the C.A.M. The manning/grading structure contained in the current agreement has been maintained. The Union cannot expect the Company to maintain a management structure in order that a number of promotional opportunities remain available to positions which are not covered by the Company/Union agreement.
5. The Company has, in successive years, reduced the number of workers in all categories. In all agreements reached there has been a compensatory increase in salary. A consequential reduction/amalgamation of Management positions is inevitable.
6 While the Company does not accept that the promotional opportunities for the claimants were diminished as a result of the appointment, it did offer to discuss the issue in the context of a new agreement which is currently being negotiated.
7. The Company has a requirement to develop two positions, senior to the grade of S.A.O, and will offer these positions, in the first instance, to members of the Clerical/Administrative staff who meet the necessary criteria.
Whilst the Court acknowledges the aspiration of staff to a career structure involving the possibility of promotion to management grades, the number and level of management posts must be determined by the needs of the organisation.
In the present case it is noted that the Company proposes to put a Change Management Programme in place which could bring about further changes in the management structure. The Court believes that that Programme should proceed with an appropriate input by the Union and the timescale for its conclusion should be accelerated.
In so far as it is necessary to facilitate this process the parties should now conclude an interim agreement.
On completion of this programme the parties should have further discussions on the creation of promotional opportunities which reflect the needs of the organisation while providing staff with opportunities for career advancement.
In the interim, the Union should accept the Company's offer to create two up-graded posts above the level of Senior Administrative Officer
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.