INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Non-filling of the post of Deputy City Engineer (Mechanical/Electrical).
2. The dispute concerns the Agreement under Better Local Government (BLG) which was negotiated between the Union and the City Council in May, 2001. Under this Agreement there would be five posts at Deputy City Engineer (DCE) level and one of these posts was in the Mechanical/Electrical area. The appointed DCE to this post was assigned to the Luas project. The Union claims that the position left vacant has not been filled and that this is contrary to Clause 5 of the Agreement. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court in August, 2003 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 5th November, 2003.
3. 1. The BLG Agreement provides that the unions would be consulted fully and involved at all stages in relation to any changes to staff structures. The Union was not consulted about the change in the agreed structure.
2. Despite a Union request to have the most senior suitable person act in the post, pending the filling of the vacancy, Management has refused to accede to the request.
4. 1. The Council has not breached the BLG agreement. No position has been suppressed and the five additional posts remain albeit that one has had alternative duties assigned. There has been no diminution of promotional prospects of workers.
2. Redeployment or re-assignment is a common occurrence in the City Council. Management always retains the right to assign duties as it sees fit. This is done in order to maximise the limited staff resources available.
The central issue in this case is the meaning of paragraph 5 of the agreement on Better Local Government concluded between the parties in May, 2001. Having reviewed the relevant text the Court is satisfied that it refers to two alternative situations. It deals firstly with situations where a person who is successful in an application for a DCE post is subsequently assigned to a project. Secondly it deals with a situation where, at the commencement of the agreement, a person who is already assigned to a project is appointed to a DCE post and it is proposed to continue that assignment.
The present case relates to the first type of situation. The DCE in question, a successful candidate, was subsequently assigned to a project. It seems clear to the Court that this assignment is covered by the agreement and that the Union is justified in seeking a temporary replacement. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the Union's claim be conceded.
If, as appears to be the case, the City Council believe that the agreement of 2001 needs to be re-examined, this is a matter which should be pursued with the Union.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th November, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.