INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
WESTMEATH COUNTY COUNCIL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Method of payment of wages.
2. The dispute refers to a claim by members of SIPTU to revert to payment of wages by cash. Staff have for over 50 years been paid by a paying order drawn on the County Council's account in the Bank of Ireland, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. The banks have recently changed their rules in regard to changing third party cheques and as a result some SIPTU members have been unable to cash their cheque in a local branch or with a local merchant.
The Union contacted the County Council on the 5th of March, 2001, and requested that they revert to payment by cash. The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission.
As no agreement could be reached, the matter was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 16th of July, 2002, in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
4. 1. Workers have earned their wages. They should not have to, in their own time, "go cap in hand" to traders to access their cash and pay for the privilege.
2. Workers should not be forced into opening bank accounts in order to get their wages.
3. Since the introduction of the Truck Act in the 19th Century it is a well established right in Law that our members, where they wish, should be paid by cash.
4. If the County Council cannot provide the payment by cash then they should give staff the time to access their money.
3. 1. Westmeath County Council has paid wages by cheque to all staff for approximately 40 years. It is the custom and practice for Westmeath County Council to pay all of its employees by cheque.
2. Westmeath County Council has contacted its Bankers to establish if they have been made aware of any difficulties in cashing of wages cheques issued by Westmeath County Council. Bank of Ireland has advised that it is not aware of any difficulty.
3. No member of staff has contacted Westmeath County Council directly regarding difficulties in cashing his/her wages cheque.
4. It has been a condition of employment for employees recruited in the past 5 years that they are paid by cheque.
5. If this claim was conceded for this group of employees, Westmeath County Council would be required to operate a dual system as other groups of staff would continue to be paid by cheque. This would lead to significant operational difficulties.
6. The current system provides a safe and secure method of payment of wages to staff. Reversion to payment by cash would bring significant security issues and would be contrary to current practice.
The Court does not consider it feasible for the Council to revert to cash payments. For that reason, the Court recommends that the Union should accept the continuation of the current arrangements.
However, the Council should seek to ensure that employees have reasonable facilities available for the cashing of cheques. In that regard, the Court recommends that the Union should provide the Council with details of those employees who are experiencing real difficulty. The Council, in consultation with the Union, should then identify and implement such steps as are necessary to overcome the difficulties. Additionally the Council should endeavour to facilitate the introduction of paypath where this would be more suitable for its staff.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Helena McDermott, Court Secretary.