INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Claim for the regrading of 17 Senior Storepersons from Grade 10 to Grade 9.
2. The Union's claim is on behalf of 17 Senior Storepersons who are employed at FÁS training centres around the country. The claimants are graded at Grade 10 and are seeking upgrading to Grade 9, on the grounds that they perform duties which are the same as those of two Buyers (currently at Grade 9) who work in the Purchasing and Materials Control Unit in Head Office. The employer states that these Buyers have also lodged a claim for upgrading to Grade 8.
Management rejected the Senior Storepersons' claim at local level and at a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the 25th of January, 2001. As agreement was not possible, the issue was referred to the Labour Court on the 8th of February, 2001, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 5th of June, 2001, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Union first served this claim on the 14th of March, 2000, yet did not receive a reply from FÁS, who proceeded to introduce a new SAP Computer System in one location without consultation. The 'Programme of Change Agreement' clearly states that the Union should be consulted in sufficient time in advance of any significant proposed change.
2. At the conciliation conference, the Union requested that an independent assessment be made on the work carried out by the claimants and by the Buyers in Head Office. This was on the basis of two previous Labour Court Recommendations - LCR16404 and LCR16690.
3. The new SAP computer system is the newest and most advanced purchasing system which very few companies operate to date. The technology will radically enhance the efficiency in accounting procedures, and will require greater flexibility, faster response and major changes in the content of the work.
4. The average amount of orders placed in each training centre is in excess of £500,000 per annum. The Senior Storeperson's job is now a high profile job, with a compelling case for parity with colleagues in Head Office. It is reasonable to request that an independent assessment be made on the claim to look at the effects of SAP, purchasing and the changes that are taking place since the introduction of the Programme of Change Agreement.
4. 1. There are significant differences between the posts and the responsibility levels of the Senior Storepersons and the Buyers. An error made by a Buyer can have far greater effect than one made by a Senior Storeperson, and can be more costly to rectify. The range of duties carried out by both claimants and comparators also differs (details to the Court).
2. The Union has argued that similarly described duties exist in relation to both jobs, but this does not mean that the jobs are the same. The Buyers in Head Office carry out a range of duties at national level, while the Senior Storepersons' expenditure is of a non-capital nature and represents outlays to meet recurring operational requirements.
3. Concession of this claim would inevitably lead to further knock-on claims by other groups in the organisation. This would upset the existing relationship structures which would cause further industrial relations difficulties. The cost implications would be substantial and the claim is, therefore, in breach of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
4. Management is satisfied that the pay differential between the jobs of the Buyer and the Senior Storeperson are justified given the respective responsibilities of the posts, and are properly represented by the grading of the posts. Management does not accept that there is a need or justification for an assessor, as requested by the Union.
The Court has considered the arguments put forward by both sides in this dispute. The Court is satisfied, on the basis of the information before it, that there is no basis for concession of the claim.
This claim is precluded under the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. Therefore, the Court does not recommend concession.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd June, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.