INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES BOARD)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Increase in retirement age. Increase in retirement gratuity.
2. The dispute concerns Retained Fire Fighters (all Grades) employed by Local Authorities. At issue is an increase in the retirement age from 55 years to 60 years and an increase in the retirement gratuity.
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 23rd of May, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the
Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 23rd of July,
2002, the earliest date suitable to both parties.
3. 1. The employers have failed to enforce a standardised approach. All Local Authorities do not compel all grades of retained fire fighters to retire at 55 years.
2. The employers have failed to treat the staff involved in the claim on the same basis as full-time fire fighters.
3. The provision for medicals does not apply to the full-time service.
4. The employers failed to take into account Council Directive 2000/78/EC regarding the framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.
5. It is the Union’s opinion that the issue of compulsion to retire at age 55 years is clearly discriminatory.
6. Recognition is given to full time staff who have over 20 years service. No recognition is give to the retained service. The issue of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001, has yet to be addressed in the Service.
7. The Union consider that the retained service should receive a proper retirement gratuity.
4. 1. The retirement age of 55 represents the standard, both nationally and internationally, for retained fire fighters. An increase of the retirement age, at this time, would be contrary to accepted best practice.
2. It is the view of management that the retirement age cannot be extended, taking into account, the health of the fire fighter and safety of his/her colleagues and that of the general public. Levels of health of retained fire fighters are assessed on the current medical scheme which is predicated on a retirement age of 55.
3. An examination of retirements from the retained fire service for one county over a 25 year period show that almost 40% of resignations were on grounds of ill health prior to reaching the actual retirement age.
4. Many retained fire services will not allow fire fighters over the age of 45 to use breathing apparatus.
5. At both Labour Court hearings in 1985 and 1989, the Union indicated acceptance of a retirement age of 55 but were reluctant to agree to implementation until the level of gratuity was increased.
6. Retained fire fighters usually have a separate substantive occupation which will provide a separate occupational pension upon retirement.
7. Gratuities payable to retained fire fighters have increased by a far higher level than those in the wider Public Service.
8. Management is examining the provision of the Part Time Work Act, 2001, to establish the position of retained fire fighters in relation to the Local Government Superannuation scheme.
9. This claim has to be considered as a cost increasing claim precluded under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF).
In support of its case for a change in the retirement age of Retained Fire Fighters, the Union have referred to the provision sof the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001, and to Council Directive 2000/78/EC (which is not yet transposed in Irish law).
Whilst the claim is before the Court under the Industrial Relations Acts, any resolution of the dispute cannot be on terms contrary to domestic or EU legislation. Furthermore, the need to maintain a blanket retirement age of 55, from a health and safety perspective, should be objectively assessed by the parties with the assistance of suitable experts.
The Court recommends that the parties establish an expert working group to carry out a review of the present retirement age having regard to the factors referred to above. The group should commission such expert assistance as it considers necessary and should report within 12 months. If necessary the matter may be referred back to the Court after this group have reported.
In the interim, the parties should agree a uniform extension period of 3 months for the purpose of training new personnel.
The Court recommends that further consideration of this claim be deferred until the expert working group referred to above reports.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th August, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Caroline Hayes, Court Secretary.