INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Elimination of overtime.
2. The dispute concerns the University's proposals to substantially reduce the amount of overtime being done by approximately 50 security services officers (SSOs) who are represented by the Union. The cuts in overtime are as a result of a reduction in the 2003 Government estimates. There are also proposals to reduce the number of SSOs.
Some years ago, a points systems was devised to ensure an even distribution of overtime among the SSOs. One of the problems for the University is that staff who return from sick leave get priority in regard to overtime to enable them to "catch up" with other colleagues. The University has proposed a change in the points system which would provide that when staff are on sick leave, the relevant amount of points would be added to the individuals total, similar to what happens currently when a staff member indicates that he/she is not available to do overtime when requested. The Union has indicated a willingness to reform the points system but insists that compensation for the loss of overtime must be paid.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 6th of November, 2003, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour court hearing took place on the 3rd of November, 2003, in Cork.
3. 1.The Company's proposals will see a substantial decrease in earnings for most staff with a parallel rise in workloads. The workers should be compensated accordingly.
2. No other group of workers will suffer a loss of earnings as a result of the cutbacks.
3. The SSOs have given major concessions on flexibilities and efficiencies. They are willing to discuss any proposals the University has.
4. 1. The current points system basically rewards staff who have been on sick leave insofar as they get priority on overtime when they return to work. Overtime costs have increased significantly over the last number of years in line with absenteeism rates.
2.The University is currently in a very difficult financial situation. Overtime in all areas of the University is currently under review but overtime in the security area is far in excess of levels of other areas, where reductions have occurred over the past number of years and are ongoing.
Due to the very difficult budgetary situation, the University is presented with having to take significant cost-saving measures to reduce its financial expenditure. A number of measures were outlined to all staff in a memorandum from the University President on 13th January, 2003. In light of the President's memorandum and the subsequent memorandum from the Budget Review Group, a cost-saving plan was devised which provides for reduced replacement/staffing levels within the Services and Security Operative grade. The proposal put to the Union involves reduced replacement cover/staffing, and attendant flexibility and reduced staffing levels during Christmas/New Year holiday periods and one shift instead of two on Sundays.
While the Union was prepared to concede to some of these measures, and went so far as to put forward its own ideas on possible cost-saving measures, it was not prepared to implement this change without compensation. The Union highlighted that the changes would mean a substantial reduction in earnings.
The University sought substantial savings in the cost of overtime; in particular it sought a change to the present system of allocating points to employees on returning from sick leave, which entitles them to priority for future overtime. The Union's proposals included a willingness to reform the points system and included substantial savings in overtime costs.
The University indicated to the Court that it is willing to pay compensation where loss of overtime earnings are established which are not absenteeism driven.
The Court is concerned at the lack of discussion and negotiations that have taken place on the proposals so far. Some of the detail of the proposed changes were only made known to the Union on the day of the Court hearing.
Therefore, the Court recommends that discussions should take place between the parties on the proposed alterations to the Services and Security Operatives duties and attendance. These discussions should include:-
- agreement on normal coverage requirements,
- replacement cover/staffing and attendant flexibility,
- method of allocating overtime,
- assessment of overtime losses which are not absenteeism driven,
- formula for compensation for overtime loss of earnings, taking cognisance of the normal formula which applies.
The Court recommends that these discussions should be completed by the end of February, 2004, with agreement on an immediate implementation date.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd December, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.