INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
2. The Bank employs 35 cleaning staff in its Dame Street offices and its Currency Centre in Sandyford. The majority of these are permanent part-time employees and they work 17.5 hours per week. In 1991, it was discovered that the cleaning staff had wrongly been informed that retirement age was 75. The Bank maintains that the mandatory retirement age is 65. The dispute concerns the Union's proposal to buy-out of 10 years' service entitlements of the workers concerned. Cleaning staff do not receive a pension on retirement from the Bank. They are covered by a superannuation scheme as per the Public Service. The Union is seeking €38,000 per person whereas the Bank has offered €1,300.
A number of meetings have taken place over the years to try and resolve the issue. In 2000, following discussions, the Bank believed that it had an agreement regarding a retirement age of 65 but the Union denies this, claiming that the only agreement was on pay rates for the workers.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 4th of April, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 25th of July, 2002.
3. 1. The workers concerned are the lowest paid staff in the Bank. They receive no pension, only an ex-gratia lump sum on retirement. This has been a contentious issue for many years.
2. The Bank has a huge potential wage cost on current rates for the additional 10 years' work entitlement. The offer of €1,300 per person is derisory to people who have given excellent service for many years.
3. The Union's claim represents little more that 6 months' pay per year of service for the 10 years, i.e.65 to75.
4. 1. The Bank cannot change the situation with regard to pensions for the workers involved. Such a change would require an Act of the Dail.
2. There would be no saving to the Bank if the workers retired at 65 as they would have to be replaced.
3. The Bank believes that there was an agreement in July, 2000 with regard to the retirement age being 65. A number of staff (4) retired under this agreement which the Union is now seeking to overturn.
The Court regards the current pension arrangements applicable to the claimants as wholly unsatisfactory. The parties should seek to address this situation, at the appropriate forum, as a matter of urgency.
The Court accepts that the reality of the present position is that the staff concerned are entitled to continue working until age 75. In these circumstances, there is justification for the payment of an exceptional gratuity in return for agreement to compulsory retirement at age 65.
Having regard to all the circumstances of this case the Court recommends as follows:
- The Bank should improve its offer of a gratuity top-up from €1,300 to €500 per year of service subject to a maximum of €10,000 in any case. This should be in addition to the normal gratuity payable under the superannuation scheme. This arrangement should apply to existing staff only.
- The four staff who retired since 2000 should be covered by the proposal at 1 above.
- The Union should agree the retirement age for all current and future cleaning staff be set at 65.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
2nd August, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.