INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
OFFALY COUNTY COUNCIL
- AND -
REPRESENTED BY IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Payment for computer project.
2. As part of Department of the Environment & Local Government policy for "Better Local Government" and the improvement and enhancement of the public service, tenders were issued to interested Companies for the provision of a new Financial Management System to all local authorities in Ireland. The implementation of the new financial system was an integral part of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
The staff involved all got a one grade "acting-up" allowance for the duration of the project, got additional overtime earnings and were promised a lump sum at the end. Six staff of the council of varying clerical/administrative grades were brought together to work on the project. When the project ended the staff involved were offered a lump sum of €1,905 (£1,500). The workers claimed that a lump sum of
€2,540 (£2,000) had been promised to them.
The matter was the subject of local discussions but no agreement could be reached. The matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 4th of December, 2001. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 8th of March, 2002, under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th of May, 2002, in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
3. 1. Because of the commitments given to the first two staff, the team had every expectation to receive at least the €2,540 (£2000) and to receive it promptly.
2. Offaly County Council had stated by letter on the 20th of November, 2000, to the Union as follows:-
"It is not the intention of the Council that any member of the team will be disadvantaged in comparison to other similar counties."
3. A comparison with other relevant counties and their treatment of staff who operated these projects would lead every expectation that under best practice they would receive more than the €2,540 (£2,000).
4. 1. The County Council has complied with the agreement on the introduction of the new system.
2. The County Council has compensated the members of the project team in a fair and equitable manner.
3. The allegations made by the Union in respect of commitments being given are unfounded and untrue and should be withdrawn by the Union.
4. The sum of €1,905 (£1,500) bonus offered as a termination bonus is the same as that claimed by the Union in their letter dated the 25th of July, 2001.
Central to this hearing was the question of exactly what was referred to the Court. The Union maintained that the issue before the Court was payment for the work done on the implementation of new financial accounting computer procedures, including payment for the project and the termination bonus. The County Council were of the view that the single issue before the Court was the value of the termination bonus to be paid.
The Court is satisfied that at conciliation the concluding position of the Union was the seeking of a termination bonus of €2,540. The Court is of the view that the payment of an acting up allowance, the payment of overtime for hours worked outside the norm and the payment of a termination bonus was the agreed position of the parties when this project was entered into in May/June 2000. In November, 2000, it was agreed by the County Council that as well as acting up allowance, no member of the team would be disadvantaged in comparison toother similar counties.
The Court accepts that each County Council negotiated their own arrangement, in the case of Offaly County Council this arrangement included the acting up allowance, payment of overtime and a termination bonus.
The Court is satisfied from the information provided that the payment of a termination payment of
€1,905 is in line with that paid to other similar counties. However, in view of the level of expectation created, the Court recommends that the conditional offer on the termination bonus, made by the County Council at conciliation, should be increased to €2,540. The Court recommends that this offer should be accepted in full and final settlement of all claims, relating to this project.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd May, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Helena McDermott, Court Secretary.