INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Improved subsistence payments.
2. In November, 1999 the Company and the Union concluded an agreement on overnight allowances in respect of pilots which comprehends allowances in Europe. The Union claims that the same allowances (which are in line with Public Sector rates) should be applied to the North American services. The current system for calculating pilot overnight allowances in North America is based on a 1980 agreement which provided for a method of adjusting the rate on a regular basis. The rates currently are as follows:
up to 42 hours $129 $117
42 - 66 hours $244 $222
66 - 90 hours $360 $327
90 - 114 hours $475 $432
The Union's claim is as follows:-
(i) The rate of allowance payable in North America to be based on the rates approved by the Revenue Commissioners and sanctioned by the Department of Finance in circular 24/2000.
(ii) The application of the twenty hour rate and the ten hour rate as per the November, 1999 overnight allowance agreement for Europe.
(iii) Calculation of time away from base to be determined by time of departure from base to time of arrival back at base.
The Company rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 7th September, 2000 but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 12th November, 2000. A Court hearing was held on the 30th January, 2001.
3. 1. The overnight allowance rates for Europe are based on the Department of Finance approved rates, while North America is excepted. There is no justification for treating North America differently to every European country. The difference arises from the historical use of a particular index from the Bureau of Labour Statistics. This is no longer necessary given the availability of timely and Revenue approved figures.
2. The Revenue approved rates are payable in respect of absences from an employee's base. For all Aer Lingus workers, except pilots, the allowances for North America are based on time of departure from Ireland to time of departure from North America. Pilots are disadvantaged as allowances are based on time of arrival in North America to time of departure from North America. There is no basis for this discrimination. All subsistence should be paid on the basis of time from departure from base to return to base.
4. 1. The current system and level of allowances payable more than adequately serve their purpose i.e. to compensate pilots for out of pocket expenses incurred on overnight stops in North America.
2. Pilots are provided with two meals on board each flight and transport between airport and hotel is provided. The only expense is with regard to meals. Using examples of menus from hotels in Boston and New York, taking the maximum cost of meals and using discounts available to pilots at each of the Company's crew hotels in North America, a Captain would have approximately $51 in New York, $64 in Boston to cover miscellaneous expenses and a Co -Pilot $39 and $52 respectively. It is clear that the allowances are very favourable.
3. The costs associated with the Union's claim are very substantial as the North American allowances are one area where there is a direct link between two staff groups in Aer Lingus. Cabin crew are covered by the same agreement and rates as pilots, being paid the same rate as co-pilots. Pilot subsistence costs would increase by approximately 74% and cabin crew by approximately 82%.
The Court understands that the subsistence rates set out in the Department of Finance circular and approved by the Revenue Commissioners are generally applied throughout the State sector. On that account the Court believes that the Union's claim has merit and should be considered.
The Court must, however, have regard to the significant costs which would be involved in moving from the present long standing arrangements to a straight application of the Revenue approved rates.
The Court notes, from the Company's submission, that the issue of pilot pay is currently the subject of talks between the parties.
The Court notes that the revision of subsistence rates is normally dealt with independently of wage rates. However, what is involved in the present claim goes beyond a revision of rates and involves a major change in the basis of calculating those rates. On that account, the Court recommends that the parties should address the present claims made by the Union in conjunction with the current pay discussions, with a view to moving towards the application of the Revenue approved rates.
The other elements of the Union's claim should also be addressed in those discussions.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th March, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.