INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS (IRELAND) LIMITED
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR7818/02/FL.
2. The Union is in dispute with the Company over management's decision to redeploy six staff members outside their own specialist areas. The workers are Tele-Sales Canvassers employed by the Company.
Management stated that they were entitled to, as per the 1996 Agreement, to interchange staff holding the post of Canvasser where it was considered necessary.
The dispute was the subject of a Rights Commissioner's hearing which took place on the
9th of April, 2002. The following is the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation:-
"I find that the Agreement does not imply that the existing canvassers have a requirement to change from the portfolios to which they were specifically appointed in 1996. I recommend that any change should be negotiated with their Unions.
The Agreement does not imply that the current situation would apply to new canvassers. It would be quite in keeping with the agreement for management to require new canvassers to agree to rotate between portfolios, provided that it is not implemented to the detriment of the claimants who are covered by this recommendation".
The Company appealed the Recommendation to the Labour Court on the 20th of May, 2002, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal on the 1st of August, 2002.
3. 1. It is management's right to manage and it was not the functions of non-management employees to decide what was best for the Company.
2. The Rights Commissioner erred in his finding by placing an emphasis of continuation of rostering while not considering what applies throughout the rest of the clerical area.
3. The Company requests the Court to rescind the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation and to recommend that canvassers can be rotated within their profile at reasonable intervals as determined by the Company.
4. 1. The claimants concerned were appointed into specific specialist roles by the 1996 agreement. Any proposed changes must be by mutual agreement.
2. The Union rejects management's interpretation that there is one job description which gives them the right to move staff around at will.
3. The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation provides for future change in relation to new staff.
4. The claimants are professional and dedicated in their specialist work and are committed to the Company. They are entitled to expect in return security of tenure in their posts and the maintenance of agreements.
Having examined the relevant wording of the 1996 agreement and having regard to the background to its negotiation, the Court is not convinced that the provision at issue can be interpreted in the way argued for by the company. Furthermore, the Court is reinforced in that view by the fact that the company continued to accept the previously established arrangements for a period of five years after the agreement was concluded.
Accordingly, the Court upholds the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner. In so doing the Court notes that the Rights Commissioner recommended that any change in existing arrangements should be negotiated with the Union. In the Court's view the type of change sought is not unreasonable and the parties should have early negotiations with a view to finding a basis on which those changes can be introduced.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th August, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.