INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
LIMERICK COUNTY COUNCIL
(REPRESENTED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES BOARD)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Payment of a sanitary service allowance.
2. The dispute before the Court concerns a claim by the Union on behalf of its members employed by Limerick County Council as Plumbers.
The claim is for payment of a sanitary service allowance to the workers concerned as they are now required to use con-saws and are also required to work with raw sewage in confined spaces.
The Council rejects the claim stating that the use of con-saws and working in confined spaces are part of the normal duties for the post.
The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 12th of August, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 13th of November, 2002, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The use of con-saws is an extra skill and the workers concerned have undertaken the appropriate training without difficulty. They also work with raw sewage in confined spaces which is extremely difficult.
2. Similar workers in Limerick City Council deal with raw sewage approximately three times per week. The workers concerned deal with raw sewage approximately twice per week. Therefore, the difference is not great. The workers concerned use con-saws on a daily basis whereas workers in the City Council use con-saws less frequently. Workers in the City Council receive an allowance for such work.
4. 1. The use of con-saws and the requirement to work in confined spaces are part of the normal duties of the workers concerned.
2. This allowance is not paid by any rural local authority. It appears to be paid by city authorities where there are vast networks of mains sewers.
3. The claim cannot be conceded as it would have serious financial implications. It is a cost increasing claim and precluded under the terms of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. The issue of allowances is currently being considered in the parallel benchmarking process.
The Court does not accept that the allowance at issue relates to the use of con-saws. It is clearly intended to compensate for unpleasant working conditions, such as working in live sewers. In so far as those associated with the present claim carry out work similar to those in receipt of the allowance in the City Council, the Court can see no valid reason as to why they should not be treated similarly.
The Court recommends that the parties agree an arrangement whereby the allowance be paid on a pro-rata basis for time actually spent working on live sewers.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th November, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Gerardine Buckley, Court Secretary.