INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
NATIONAL BUS & RAIL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Re-hearing arising from Labour Court recommendation LCR16865.
2. On the 15th of June, 2001, the Labour Court issued an interim recommendation, LCR16865, to the parties. The issues referred to the Court were attendance hours, planned working hours, composite earning rates, night working supplement and the introduction of a voluntary severance package. The interim recommendation was accepted by the parties, pending agreement on the overall proposals. There are 73 staff involved in three grades, 26 Signal Operative Class 2, 38 Signal Operative Class 1 and 9 Signal Gangers.
Direct discussions have since taken place both locally and centrally. The main concentration of local discussions was on the formulation of indicative rosters which would apply consequent on acceptance of change proposals. Following agreement in this regard central discussions focussed on details of the substantive agreement being pursued with particular reference to new pay arrangements. These proposals were issued to the Trade Unions on 4th April, 2002. However, they were rejected. In accordance with the Court's interim Recommendation, as agreement was not reached, the case was referred back to the Court, "for final overall Recommendation". The Labour Court heard the dispute on 13th June, 2002.
3. 1. Since the issue of the interim recommendation, little or no progress has been made.
2. The Company has breached the recommendation in relation to the earnings of the members in that they have cut their earnings without discussion or agreement.
3. The Unions request the Court to recommend that the members who have suffered a loss of earnings should be compensated for this loss.
4. The members have agreed to give careful consideration to a 5 over 7 day week, provided the pay element of this claim recognises their commitment to a 5 over 7 working week.
4. 1. The interim recommendation provided for a 33.5% increase "on the basis that an overall agreement will be reached embracing the constituent elements in the Change Proposals issued".
2. The reduction in hours of work was prompted by safety and budgetary concern/constraints.
3. The implementation of these "Change Proposals", bearing in mind that indicative rosters have been agreed locally, will bring significant benefits to the staff concerned.
4. The proposals on offer represent a basic bargain; new enhanced stable earnings; new reduced working hours; greater pension benefits; in return for increased flexibility and efficiency particular to this group of staff.
In the course of the last year the Court has made a number of recommendations dealing with the process of change /restructuring which has been ongoing in Iarnrod Eireann since 1997. In the present case the Court is satisfied that the changes in work practices
sought by the Company from this grade are broadly similar in nature and degree to that conceded by the other groups with which their pay was previously linked. This recommendation, therefore, should be seen as a further step towards finalising that process.
In an interim recommendation, dated the 15th June, 2001, the Court recommended acceptance of a Company proposal of an increase of 33.5% in return for the employment of contractors to deal with the work prioritised by the Company, on the basis that an overall agreement would be reached embracing the constituent elements of the Change Proposals. The proposal also provided for no loss of earnings for the employees in the groups concerned as a result of the employment of contractors, i.e. that the present pattern of work of these staff would continue. Immediate discussions were then to commence, these discussions and an agreement on rosters associated with the new deal to be completed by the 31st July, 2001.
The Court is concerned at the long delay in finalising these discussions on the Change Proposals and not least at the fact that both for safety and budgetary reasons over that period the work pattern of the employees involved has been curtailed, substantially in some cases.
In response to the above, and to the further written and oral submissions put forward by the parties at the hearing on the 13th June, 2002, on the issues still outstanding between the parties, the Court recommends as follows: -
1. In recognition of the Unions’ concerns regarding the reduction in hours which took place contrary to the Court’s recommended interim settlement, and the need for implementation of agreed rostering arrangements, the Court now recommends that the introduction of the composite rate for 44 hours should be introduced as follows: -
Normal working hours to continue until 1st September, 2002; a maximum of 57 hours per week from 1st September, 2002 to 31st December, 2002; a maximum of 48 hours per week from 1st January, 2003 until 30th April, 2003; and introduction of composite 44 hours per week from 1st May, 2003.
The Company’s pay proposals should be amended as follows: -
•1st February 2002 Basic Pay to be increased by 2.5%•1st August 2002 Basic Pay to be increased by 2%•1st October 2002 Basic Pay to be increased by 2%•1st January 2003 Basic pay to be increased by 2%, in addition to PPF (4%).2. The Court recommends that in line with the Permanent Way workers arrangements, Signal Operatives and Gangers currently employed should be rostered on a 5 over 6 day roster, i.e. in addition to their five day week an additional weekend day to be worked on a rostered basis, thus giving rise to some six day weeks. Also in line with the Permanent Way workers arrangements, all new entrants into the grade from 1st August, 2002, should be employed on the basis of a 5 over 7 rostering arrangement. Existing workers, who wish to work a five over seven day roster, should be facilitated on the same basis as new entrants.
3. It is clear that there is strong resistance amongst the workers concerned to the Company’s proposal to establish a flexible start time. The Court did not hear a compelling argument from the Company for the flexibility being sought. Therefore, the Court recommends that the arrangement, which it understands has been agreed with the Permanent Way workers, should apply to this group. In addition, the present arrangement regarding emergency callout should continue when the ‘Composite Pay’ arrangements are introduced. The Court recommends that a minimum 4 hours should continue to apply, to be offset from the roster.
4. The Court recommends that in recognition of their responsibilities, mechanical linesmen’s pay should be adjusted as proposed by the Company, i.e. the new Signal Operatives Class 1 rate should apply.
5. The Court recommends acceptance of the proposed nightwork supplement where night work is undertaken, at €211.61 for five nights and pro rata for a lesser number in each week.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th July, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Gerardine Buckley, Court Secretary.