INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR7861/02/GF
2. In December, 1999, the parties reached agreement to restructure the musicians' grading and payment section, including various pay anomalies which dated back to the early days of the orchestra. In respect of the agreement, the worker concerned was assimilated to the top point of the top grade, receiving an increase of €2,971. The agreement stated"current salaries, including doubling and personal allowances, will be assimilated at the nearest point of the relevant new scales, taking into account the appropriate basic and re-grading increases".
The Union's case is that the worker, who had a personal allowance and doubling allowance prior to the agreement, should be allowed to retain both. The Company feels that this would be contrary to the terms of the agreement. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner whose recommendation was as follows:-
"The relationship was maintained by successive management throughout the years of his employment and its discontinuance was not dealt with satisfactorily during the negotiations despite the claimant's effort toalert all concerned. The Company's argument that to find in his favour would seriously undermine the entire agreement has not convinced me, and for that reason along with assurances given to the claimant and his Union that the matter could be dealt with at a later date, I am recommending the restoration of his allowance from 31st May 1999."
The Company appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 4th of September, 2002, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 3rd of December, 2002.
3. 1. The agreement was freely negotiated by the parties and overwhelmingly endorsed by ballot. The worker was part of the Union's negotiating team.
2. The worker is seeking all of the benefits of the agreement but is also seeking to retain his personal/doubling allowance which would, in effect, mean getting the allowances twice.
3. It would be a retrograde step to re-structure personal salaries for some workers, and unfair to their colleagues. The Company has fully honoured its commitment to the 1999 agreement.
4. If the Rights Commissioner recommendation is conceded, the worker would be in receipt of additional payments of €4,955 per year in excess of his direct counterpart in the National Symphony Orchestra and 27 of his section leader colleagues.
4. 1. It is misleading to view the 1999 agreement in isolation. Both sides recognised that there would be some unfinished business, including a number of individual cases such as the worker concerned. It was agreed that these cases would be "processed in the normal manner through our agreed RTE/SIPTU procedures".
2. The worker wrote to management in November, 1999, about his situation but did not receive a reply for 18 months.
3. The worker's case is unique and the Rights Commissioner confirmed in a letter of 6th of August, 2002, that he had "conceded the claim in full".
The Court has considered the submission of both sides to the Company's appeal of the Rights Commissioner's recommendation. The Company lodged the appeal on the grounds that the restoration of the employee's personal allowance and doubling allowance as recommended by the Rights Commissioner runs contrary to the terms of the RTE/SIPTU agreement of 7th December, 1999.
The Court is satisfied that the agreement expressly provided for the consolidation of all personal allowances and doubling allowances into the newly agreed pay scales. It did not provide for any exceptions to this rule. Therefore, the Court upholds the Company's appeal and overturns the Rights Commissioner's recommendation.
However, in recognition of the unique and special circumstances of this employee, the Court recommends that as a gesture of goodwill the Company should pay him a lump sum of €5,000 in full and final settlement of his claim. The Court points out that this can not be used as a precedent for any other claim in relation to the RTE/SIPTU agreement of 7th December, 1999.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th December, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.