INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
AER LINGUS SHANNON
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation Ir941/99/MR
2. The dispute concerns a claim by the worker for a training liability bonus worth £500 per year. The bonus is paid to permanent staff based in Line Maintenance before the 1st of January, 1990, and who continue to work there.
The worker commenced employment on a seasonal basis with the Company in 1974, as an aircraft handler . He became permanent in 1979, and was one of 3 garage assistants in the garage area which, the Union claims, was part of the maintenance area. The Union's case is that in the early 1980s the 2 other garage assistants retired and were replaced by 4 equipment refuellers on a weekly roster basis. The training allowance was paid to the 4 refuellers but not to the worker in question. In 1984, the worker was transferred on a seasonal basis to the aircraft handlers area but again was the only person not paid the allowance. He continued to work his summers as an aircraft handler, and his winters as a garage assistant for the years 1984/86. In 1989, a permanent position was advertised in the aircraft handlers section. The worker applied for the job but was unsuccessful. He was eventually appointed as a permanent aircraft handler in 1993. However, a Company/Union agreement precluded new appointees (after 1st of January, 1990) from receiving the allowance. The Company's view is that the worker did not join line maintenance until 1993, and so is not entitled to the allowance.
The worker referred his case to a Rights Commissioner and his recommendation issued as follows:
"In the circumstance, I recommend that the Union and the worker should accept that they have been unable to show that the worker should have been in receipt of the Training Liability Bonus prior to 1 January, 1990. Given the long period of time that has elapsed, I also recommend that they should now formally withdraw the claim".
(The worker was named in the above recommendation.)
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 12th of June, 2000, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 24th of January, 2001, in Limerick (the earliest date suitable to the parties).
3. 1. The worker was discriminated against in 1981 by not being granted the allowance, unlike the refuellers who worked with him as garage assistants.
2. The Company discriminated against the worker in 1989 by not appointing him as a permanent aircraft handler. He was the most senior applicant. The Company deemed him unsuitable in 1989, but promoted him in 1993.
3. The 1990 cut-off point for the allowance only applied to new entrants into the section. The worker in question was not a new employee as he had worked as a handler from 1974-1979 (seasonal basis) and from 1984-1986 (seasonal basis while permanent as a garage assistant).
4. 1. Two of the refuellers in the garage were the only garage staff asked to take on work practice changes in 1981, and, as a result, were paid the allowance. The worker concerned was not one of them. A claim received from the garage staff for payment of the allowance was rejected.
2. The Company sought to have the allowance removed from all staff in 1989. After the issue was referred to a third party, it was agreed that the allowance would be paid to those who had worked in line maintenance prior to 1990, and who continued to work there. The worker concerned was employed in the garage at the time, and did not qualify for the allowance.
3. A number of individuals and groups of staff have submitted claims on various occasions for this allowance. None of these claims have been successful.
The Court has taken into consideration all aspects of this case. This issue has been the subject of dispute for quite some time. The Court is aware of the agreement made as a result of a third party hearing which precluded new entrants to the Line Maintenance grade from receiving the Training Liability Bonus. The Court also accepts that this preclusion included the worker, as he only joined the Line Maintenance Grade in 1993.
However, the Court recommends that, as a gesture of goodwill, the Company should pay the worker, on a personal basis, the sum of £500 in recognition of the 2 seasons during 1985 and 1986 when he worked in the line maintenance section as an Acting Operative B, and due to his very long service in the Company. This should be accepted in full and final settlement of this claim.
The Rights Commissioner's recommendation is hereby amended.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th February, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.