INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NATIONAL CAR TESTING SERVICE
(REPRESENTED BY MANAGEMENT, SUPPORT SERVICES (IRL) LIMITED
- AND -
AGEMOU / SIPTU
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Dispute concerning: 1. Harmonisation of Rates/Basic Pay, 2. Flexible Working Arrangements, 3. Productivity Bonus Scheme, 4. Team Leaders and Clerical Staff, 5. Health and Safety, 6. Rosters.
2. The Company commenced vehicle testing operations on the 4th January, 2000. The Union's claim is on behalf of approximately 200 workers employed in 43 centres nation-wide as Vehicle Inspectors, Team Leaders, Administration / Clerical staff and Marshals. Details of the Union's claim are as follows:
A substantial increase in basic pay for all grade. The harmonisation and consolidation of the £37 payment, applicable to Dublin for Vehicle Inspectors only, the above rate to be subsumed into pay for all workers in the Company.
2. Flexible working arrangements:
Workers are employed on the basis of flexible hours to include Saturdays. The Union is seeking a 39 hour week over 5 days with all hours after 39 to be paid at the premium overtime rate, overtime to be worked on a voluntary basis.
3. Bonus Scheme:
The Union proposed that workers received a bonus payment based on each vehicle which would come through the centre.
4. Team Leaders, Clerical Staff:
Team Leaders should receive the 6% Bonus already consolidated into Inspectors Pay.
They should receive an increase in line with their colleagues but maintain their differential. Clerical workers basic pay must be increased substantially.
5. Health and Safety:
The Union requests that the Company introduces extraction at source in relation to the
build up of carbon monoxide and other noxious fumes under the centres.
That consultation take place with the Union on rosters.
Local discussions and meetings were held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission throughout 2000. In June 2000 the Company proposed to incorporate the bonus payment of 6% per week into basic weekly pay of Vehicle Inspectors ;from September, 2000 to pay the 4% increase (part payment) due under PPF with the remaining balance paid on 1st January, 2001. Phase 2 of the PPF w.e.f. September, 2001 with negotiations on a productivity/gainsharing scheme to commence in August 2000. The parties also agreed to try and achieve harmonisation of rates of pay as soon as possible. At subsequent meetings no further progress was made. The dispute was
referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on
the 30th November, 2000. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to
the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 5th January, 2001. The
Union took official industrial action the 17th January, 2001 because it claimed the
Company introduced new rosters without consultation or agreement and removed
workers from the payroll. Court hearings were held on the 12th and 19th February,
2001. A Letter Recommendation was issued on the 23rd February, 2001.
Claim 1. Pay
1. When the Vehicle Inspectors were recruited their wage was in excess of S.I.M.I garage
mechanics with an addition of £37 pw conceded to Dublin area workers. The situation
is now very much eroded as the average garage mechanic is now paid £415 pw with
plus payments and allowances. This is based on a 39 hour week, overtime work is paid for at premium rates.
1. The Company already guarantees basic pay and the majority of workers benefited from this guarantee because they are not rostered sufficiently to use up their full quota of hours under the flexible working agreement.
2. The Company cannot afford any further increase in basic pay. It is necessary for workers to focus on the importance of achieving productivity levels which allow for the Company to fund additional income.
Claim 2. Flexible Working Arrangements
1. The current flexible hours system is not operating effectively or efficiently. There are many disagreements with Management about hours worked up by employees. Workers feel they are being short changed in the amount of hours owed to them. Employees are also required to work overtime over and above rostered finish time, yet hours
banked are only at flat time working. In other good employments all overtime work is paid for at either T1/2 or 2T.
1. The Company acknowledge that during 2000 there were many difficulties with the flexible working arrangements. Management was now taken steps to try and reduce those difficulties. The Company has updated its information so that workers will know on a weekly basis, exactly what hours they have worked and what time off they are due.
Claim 3. Productivity Bonus Scheme
1. The Company's proposal of introducing the £37 p.w. as a bonus and spreading it over the lifetime of the PPF contained an excessive number of penalty clauses. Staff in Dublin would not benefit until the bonus exceeded the differential. A bonus payment based on each vehicle coming through a test centre, with appropriate checks and balances, is suggested by the Union.
1. The Company proposals allowed for a bonus scheme to operate which would be based on both the performance of the Company as a whole as will as the performance of individual test centres. Based on these standards of performance the Company was able to indicate that this would generate sufficient additional income to support the extra cost of harmonising rates of pay.
Claim 4. Team Leaders and Clerical Staff
1. Team Leaders are first line management and should be paid as management. Currently their wages do not reflect this and are below that of crafts persons within the engineering industry. They must be paid the 6% subsumed into Basic Pay of Vehicle Inspectors and receive an increase in line with their colleague Inspectors but maintaining the differential.
2. Clerical staff are in receipt of £10,000 P.A. in rural areas and in the Dublin Area the salary is £12,000 ,average salaries elsewhere in the administration area are from £13,000-19,000 pa. Car marshals are also in the same low wage predicament and need a substantial wage increase.
1. The Company has held meetings with Team Leaders in relation to improvements in their terms and conditions of employment. It was the company's intention to have
further meetings with them but these were precluded by the Union's insistence on having them dealt with in this claim. The Company feels the issue should be given a separate time for evaluation.
2. The clerical staff claim was lodged in December 2000 and because of the Industrial Action, Management could not respond and it was not dealt with as part of the conciliation conference in January, 2001.
Claim 5. Health & Safety
1. The Company is in breach of the Health and Safety legislation as it is not providing a safe place to work or indeed a safe system for workers to operate. Action must be taken by the Company in relation to the removal of toxic fumes from the operation at source and to a number of other issues (details to the Court) to improve the working environment.
2. Workers have complained of feeling unwell in their current working environment and it is incumbent on the Company to make the workplace right in order for employees to operate at maximum efficiency.
3. The study undertaken by the industrial hygienist was flawed in that when it was undertaken, very few cars were coming into the centre on that particular day, therefore, it was not a true and accurate reflection of the overall working conditions in forthill. It was also proposed in the Summer when the doors were open. The only way to solve the issue is the extraction at source which is not expensive and could be phased into the 43 centres over a period starting with the busiest centres immediately.
1. The Company has endeavoured at all times to have the most effective extraction equipment in place to minimise any potential risk to workers. The Company retained independent occupational Hygienists to carry out tests in the Centres to ascertain if there is any risk. They have indicated that the Company are operating well within legal limits. The Company would like to make its premises even safer and indicated that it would bring in the Occupational Hygienists during the month of January to carry out tests and also agreed to bring in the Company Doctor to carry out blood tests on nominated workers to ascertain if there is any risk of harm to workers. The Company has been visited by the Health and Safety Authority who examined company premises, examined ports, and did not find it necessary to issue any notices or instructions to the Company.
2. The Company recognises that any environment can be made safer. However it is not remiss in its obligations to provide a safer place or work to employees. This standard set when designing are recognised as the highest in Europe and would stand comparison. The Company is willing to review any Constructive feedback regarding the environment with any staff member and has already indicated this.
Claim 6 Rosters
1. The Union was not consulted in relation to new rosters, introduced without consultation providing for four lates per week. This is unacceptable.
1. The Company's roster (4x10 hours) gave workers less hours to work and more time off. This was only for peak months. The Company breached no agreements. Rosters will always be governed by customer demands.
The Court has carefully considered the written and oral submissions of the parties made in the course of both hearings into this dispute. The Court recommends that the present dispute be resolved and that there be a full resumption of work on the following basis:
1 Harmonisation of Rates/Basic Pay.
The supplement of £37 currently payable to Vehicle Inspectors in Dublin should be extended nationally on the following basis:
- A first phase of £17 payable from date of acceptance of this recommendation.
- A second phase of £20 payable nine months after the date of implementation of the first phase.
This supplement should be incorporated in basic pay with effect from the expiry date of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness as it applies to this employment.
2 Flexible Working Arrangements.
The current arrangements should be modified as follows:
- Up to 20 hours worked in excess of standard hours per five week period should be banked at their actual value and used to allow employees extra time off on the same conditions as currently apply. However, where the company requires an employee to take time off out of the banked hours reasonable notice should be given.
- Where overtime in excess of 20 hours per five week period is worked, it should be paid at normal overtime rates.
- Where banked hours are unused at the end of a leave year they should be paid for at normal overtime rates.
Employees should receive with each pay statement details of the banked hours accrued in the period to which the statement relates together with the cumulative number of banked hours for the year to-date.
3 Productivity Bonus Scheme
The parties should have further discussions on the introduction of a productivity / gainsharing scheme, which could provide further opportunities for enhanced earnings linked to agreed levels of improved output and performance.
4 Team Leaders and Clerical Staff.
No negotiations have taken place at conciliation on the position of Team Leaders and Clerical staff. Following acceptance of this Recommendation, the parties should enter into immediate negotiations on the claims made on behalf of these categories. These negotiations should proceed, if necessary, through normal procedures including reference of outstanding issues to conciliation and the Court.
5 Health and Safety
The Union have expressed concerns as to the health and safety implications for staff of certain aspects of the current arrangements for car testing at thecompany's centres. The company, based on external expert advice, contends that these concerns are not well founded.
Whilst the Court accepts, without reservation, that the health and safety of staff is of paramount importance, the opposing arguments put forward by the parties on this issue are not ones on which the Court can adjudicate. The Court recommends that the parties jointly consult with the Health and Safety Authority on the issues raised and should accept such recommendations that the Authority may make.
Where rosters are to be changed, management should consult with the Union locally in advance of any change being introduced. It should, however, be accepted that management must retain the right to determine rosters in line with the needs of the service. Rosters should specify the starting and finishing time for staff, which should not be departed from except where unforeseeable circumstances arise. Employees should be guaranteed the number of hours for which they are rostered on any day on which they report for work. Within these arrangements, and those recommended at 2 above, the Union should agree to work the rosters proposed by management.
The recommendations set out above are intended to represent a comprehensive response to the claims made by the Union. They should be accepted on the basis that no further cost increasing claims will be made during the currency of the PPF. The parties should also accept that in future no form of industrial action can be taken until normal procedures, including reference of the issues in dispute to the Labour Relations Commission and the Court, have been resorted to and exhausted.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th March, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.