INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CORK CITY COUNCIL (CORK CORPORATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Saturday premium discontinuance and reduced hours worked compensation.
2. The claim is in respect of the workers at the Kinsale Road landfill site. There are 2 issues involved: (1) proposal to discontinue a premium payment (14 hours) which is paid for a Saturday preceding a Bank Holiday and (2) proposal to rationalise the hours at the landfill site.
(1). This payment has traditionally been paid as there was additional waste to be dealt with on the Saturdays in question i.e. domestic waste collection in lieu of the Monday collection. Management has offered to pay compensation at the rate of twice the annual loss.
(2). The proposal to rationalise the hours is twofold: firstly as the throughput at the site has reduced from 350,000 tons in the mid 1990s to 87,000 in the current year. The second item is the Organisation of Work Time Act, 1997, (the Act) which stipulates a maximum of 48 working hours per week. The Union is seeking that permanent staff's conditions be "red circled" in both issues, at least until a solution has been agreed.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 18th of December, 2001. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 20th of December, 2001, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 13th of February, 2002, in Cork.
3. 1. The workers at the landfill site have been in receipt of the additional 14 hours payment on the Saturdays for many years. To discontinue it would impact on the workers' income on an ongoing basis.
2. There are only 7 workers involved in the claim, 2 of whom are to retire shortly. The financial implications for the Council would be very small.
3. The Council proposes to reduce the workers' hours from a maximum of 68.5 hours and a minimum of 58 hours to 47.5 hours per week. This is unacceptable as the losses would be significant (details supplied to the Court). In addition, the loss would have an impact on the workers' pensionable rate of pay and their holiday pay.
4. 1. There is no longer a valid reason to continue paying the premium payment. Tonnage throughput has reduced considerably and will continue to do so. Staff are not required to work longer hours on the Saturdays in question than any other Saturday.
2. Under the terms of the Act, the maximum working week allowable is 48 hours. The Council does not have a choice in the matter. The revised working week will average 47.5 hours and the Council has offered to pay compensation in respect of the difference between the revised hours and the 48-hour week. The Union's proposal of "red-circling" the workers' condition cannot be considered.
Two issues were put forward by the Union when the City Council decided to rationalize operations at the Kinsale Road Landfill site - the Union's objection to (a) the discontinuation of the fourteen hours payment for Saturday working in a week preceding Public Holidays, and (b) reduction in the number of hours that general operatives work.
(a)discontinuation of the fourteen hours payment for Saturday working in a week precedingPublic Holidays:
The Court notes that this payment existed for over thirty years and the claimants are long serving employees. Therefore, due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding this claim, the Court recommends that the City Council's offer of two years the annual loss should be increased to two and a half years the annual loss. In recognition of the Union's concerns about the pension implications of the loss of this payment for those employees who are due to retire shortly, the Court recommends that the City Council should allow the claimants choose whether to accept this payment on a once-off lump sum basis or retain the payment on a red-circling basis and, thereby, be considered as pensionable for a period of two and a half years.
(b)reduction in the number of hours that general operatives work:
The Court is concerned at the City Council's non-compliance with the legal obligations of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, since the 1st of March, 1998.
The Court is aware of the current stalemate position in the national negotiations between the Union and the Local Government Management Services Board in relation to local authorities on the issue of compensation for loss of earnings as a result of the reductions in working hours due to the Act, 1997. The Court recommends that, in the event of compensation being agreed at national level, the claimants in this case should benefit from any compensation agreed.
The Court cannot recommend compensation where the reduction in hours of work has been brought about in order to comply with the requirements of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997. The Court is conscious of the significant reduction in earnings that will result due to the major reductions in working hours. The City Council has made an offer to employees to compensate for the reduction up to the legal limit of 48 hours. The Court recommends that this offer should be accepted. The Court notes that future reductions in hours will be the subject of discussions.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th March, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.