INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DUNDALK & DROGHEDA FIRE SERVICE
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Payment of rent allowance
2. The Union has submitted a claim on behalf of forty of its members, for the payment of a rent allowance similar to that paid to firemen nationally. It argues that the history of pay and allowances in the fire brigade is linked to that of the Garda�, a situation that was established by the Labour Court in 1968 and which has remained unbroken since then. The Union states that the national pay deal for fire-fighters includes the rent allowance.
Management rejected the Union's claim that the national pay deal includes rent allowance. It also states that because there is no residential requirement on fire-fighters and because they are not moved from one centre to another, there is no requirement to pay a rent allowance.
As no agreement was possible between the parties, the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. Conciliation conferences were held on the 10th of December, 1998, and on the 25th of January, 2001, but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 19th of February, 2001, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 19th of September, 2001.
3. 1. The rent allowance is paid to fire-fighters nationally. It should also apply to the claimants in this case.
2. As a result of the agreement reached under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW), an element of the special pay award will only apply to the rent allowance. This means that the claimants will not receive the full benefit of this national agreement.
3. The fire-fighters in Dundalk and Drogheda are employed by the same service as fire-fighters nationally and there is no reason why the same pay and allowances should not apply to these workers.
4. The refusal to pay the rent allowance, which is reckonable for pension purposes, will disadvantage these workers as their pension will be out of line in relation to their colleagues employed elsewhere.
4. 1. In 1982, the Labour Court rejected a claim for a rent allowance for these workers.
2. No residency requirement currently exists and fire service personnel are entitled to reside in the location of their choice. As there is only one fire station in each area. personnel are not subject to transfer from one station to another as would be the case in Dublin.
3. The 1991 agreement, which covered the introduction of the 39 hour week, together with changes in shifts and shift premium, was agreed on the basis that there would be no further claim by the Union in respect of rent allowance.
4. The payment of this claim involving significant cost implications is clearly in breach of clause 11 of Framework 1, Annex 1, of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
Having considered the submissions of the parties, the Court is cognisant of a previous Labour Court Recommendation on the same claim, issued in 1982 when the claim was rejected. Since the issue of that recommendation, the Union pointed out that as a result of agreement under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work, an element of the special pay award will only apply to the rent allowance, therefore, the claimants will not receive the full benefit of the national agreement. The Court is not satisfied that this is the case.
The Court is satisfied that no new criteria exist which would qualify the claimants for this allowance. The fact that other fire services have such an allowance is not in itself sufficient grounds for the Court to recommend payment of the allowance, coupled with management's assertion that this is a cost - increasing claim and, therefore, debarred under the terms of PPF. Therefore, the Court does not recommend concession of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th November, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.