INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
REPRESENTED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES BOARD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
AMALGAMATED TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Dispute concerning the establishment of a National Training and Development Fund for General Operatives.
2. The Unions' claim, is on behalf of General Operatives (G.O.s) employed in 31 Local Authorities outside of the Dublin area. It is for the creation of a National Training and Development Fund of €6.35 million for two years with a top up of 3% gross payroll going forward. The Fund would be operated on a national level under the partnership theme. The claim arises within the context of the Parallel Benchmarking Report carried out under the November, 2000, Agreement, reached between the parties and the Department of Finance. The Agreement sets out the arrangements to apply to the G.O. grades. These arrangements provide for a review of the grades concerned by a Joint Working Group (JWG) comprising of representatives of Unions and Employers and chaired by an Officer of the Labour Relations Commission. The review would consist of :
(a) a comprehensive study of the grades in terms of pay and reward structures, roles and duties, conditions of employment,
(b) a report to the JWG by an outside independent expert recommended by the Public Service Benchmarking Body in relation to changes in the existing grading structures, changes in work practices, conditions of employment.
In June, 2001 the Public Service Benchmarking Body nominated the consultancy firm IMBUCON to carry out the review of the G.O. grades. Submissions were received from Employers and Unions and the Consultant's Report was issued in March, 2002. Discussions commenced at the JWG on the Report's sixteen point agenda but the parties could not reach agreement on it's recommendation in relation to training. The Unions' claim was rejected by Management which indicated that training would be based on a Training Needs Analysis at local level. This was not acceptable to the Unions.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission in December, 2002. A Court hearing was held on the 27th February, 2003.
3. 1. A job profile exercise carried out in the Local Authority sector in 2001 revealed that less than 50 % of the G.O. group received any training and most of this was carried out by colleagues. Many workers indicated that they received no training.
2. Lack of training opportunities for G.O.'s contributes to difficulties relating to bridging skill gaps within the service, thus impacting on service delivery, lack of staff mobility, difficulties recruiting staff, and low morale.
3. There is need for a coordinated approach to training to ensure access to training for these grades. The recommendation of the consultants' Report substantiates the basis of the Unions' claim.
4. The Training Needs Analysis Study for all grades in the sector is rejected by the Unions as a way forward. It is contrary to the views in the Report whose recommendations make clear that a major initiative is required to bring about change in the Employers' relationship with their workforce.
4. 1.Significant progress has been made over the lifetime of the Programme For Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) for the delivery of training for the G.O. grades. The Local Authorities have delivered on the 3% commitment under PPF both at local and regional level.
2.The Training Needs Analysis will specifically identify what local needs are and the Local Training Officer will then set about ensuring those needs are met.
3.The training plans will be presented to local partnership committees and a guarantee is given that the GO grades will be allocated specific funds for training and development programmes. Workers will gain ownership of the programmes through the involvement of local partnership committees.
4.Management will continue to deliver on setting aside specific funds for training and development, and commit to spend a proportionate amount of money to the number of G.O.s employed in individual Local Authorities. Management accept the recommendation of the Report which sets out a process for the monitoring of funds spent in this area.
The Union is clearly concerned at what it perceives to be a lack of management commitment to appropriate training for general operatives and a lack of trust in local authorities to deliver on financial commitments for training.
Management claim that significant progress has been made over the lifetime of the P.P.F. in the delivery of training and development of general operatives.They are also satisfied that they have more than delivered on the 3% for training commitment under the P.P.F.
The Court recommends the following with a view to addressing the concerns of both sides:-
1. Management, as outlined at the hearing, to create a fund of 3% of the payroll of the grades involved in this dispute, for training and development of general operatives.
2. Local Management to continue to be responsible for the planning and provision of training
3. The parties to set up a national forum to monitor the provision of training within the specified allocation and programme.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th March, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.