INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
2. The dispute concerns 5 Ultrasonic Rail Testers/Operators who are part of the Permanent Way Structure, and forms part of the "change proposals" which have taken place between the parties (the Union supplied details of the work of the Operators). The Union is claiming €44,000 per worker per annum (comprised of a basic annual rate of
€35,914 plus an additional €8,086), excluding zoning, meal and lodging allowances, in return for a 44 hour week. The Operators' current average annual earnings is €49,000, comprising basic pay of €388 per week plus overtime and allowances. The Union is also seeking a once-off payment of €2540 as recognition for undergoing a new training and examination process. The Company claims that its pay proposals will represent a major increase, including National Wage Agreements. It has also offered a lump sum of €1,278.
In 1998, the workers concerned received a 10% pay increase plus €2,540 lump sum for increased flexibility. The Union believes that these were for a long-standing regrading claim, whereas the Company view is that they were for additional flexibilities.
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 12th of September, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 22nd of November, 2002.
3. 1. The Union made it clear in 1998 that the 10% pay rise was for past performance and was not part of any "new deal". Management raised no objection at the time.
2. The workers are giving major concessions/ flexibilities in return for the €44,000 per annum.
3. The once-off lump sum is in line with payments to other grades for far less co-operation.
4. 1. The change proposals which afford a 5/7 day working arrangement with a maximum average week of 44 hours represents a significant improvement in the working conditions of the Operators.
2. The proposals offered by the Company provide for a substantial increase in pay.
3. The 10% pay increase in 1998 was an interim payment for taking on additional flexibilities.
4. Concession of the Union's claim would have significant cost/industrial relations implications in respect of potential knock-on claims from other groups.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions of both parties. The Court is satisfied that the basic rate of pay of Ultrasonic Operators was increased by 10% in 1998, that the current rates of pay are inclusive of this increase and that the 10% increase does not form any part of theChange Processoffer which is the issue of this dispute.
The Court is of the view that the Company's offer to increase the basic pay of Ultrasonic Operators as part of itsChange ProcessRestructuring Proposals from its current level of €387.61 for a 39 hour week to a composite rate of €650.61 for a 44 hour week, including PPF, is a generous offer and should be accepted by the Union. The Court is of the view that there is no basis for conceding an additional €8,086 as claimed by the Union.
Management indicated to the Court that they were in a position to introduce the reduced 44 hours with immediate effect if the proposals were accepted. The Court recommends that the €1,278 lump sum offered in return for acceptance of the proposals should, in the circumstances of this case, be increased to a lump sum of €2,500 and that the proposals should be accepted in full and final settlement of theChange Process.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th December, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.