INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(5), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
ESB GROUP OF UNIONS
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay, Pension Fund Deficit, Organisation & Industry Change, Employee Shareholding
2. Following a request by Mr David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the National Implementation Body held a series of meetings with all interested parties, on 8th July 2004, against the background of a threat of industrial action. Following these meetings the NIB requested the Court "to examine and recommend appropriate machinery to deal with the issues". As a result of this initiative by the NIB all parties accepted the NIB proposal and the threat of industrial action was withdrawn.
The Court held exploratory talks with the parties on Thursday 15th July, 2004. In these talks the management team was augmented with representatives of relevant Government Departments.
The following is the Recommendation of the Court.
The issues giving rise to this dispute can be categorised under four main headings, namely:
- Pension Fund Deficit,
- Organisation and Industry Change,
- Employee Shareholding.
Each of these issues raise complex questions concerning such matters as national pay policy and its application to ESB, the ongoing viability of ESB's pension fund, the overall impact on Company finances and the organisational impact of electricity directives and their implications for a competitive market in Ireland.
The group of Unions is also seeking an extension of the employee shareholding, which currently stands at 5%, in consideration of their ongoing cooperation with significant change and restructuring within the Company. This claim is of concern to Government, as shareholder, having regard to its policy on employee shareholding in State companies and to the Company in light of the financial implications involved.
It is clear to the Court that while some issues in dispute can be addressed in discussions between the Company and its Unions, others are in the domain of government policy and are not solely amenable to industrial relations solutions. It is also clear that the issues cannot be segmented at this stage and that an integrated approach is required in seeking a solution to all of them.
The Court recommends that an independent facilitator, nominated by the Court, be appointed to work with all the parties in identifying their position on the issues and in identifying the parameters within which solutions can be found including the appropriate mechanisms and / or procedures which should be used to that end.
The Court further recommends that the parties, in considering issues within its remit, have full regard to the central role of the ESB Industrial Council as the appropriate body for the resolution of industrial relations disputes within the Company.
The independent facilitator should commence work as soon as this recommendation is accepted and should report back to the Court at the end of September, 2004. The facilitator should be entitled to determine his own method of procedure and should be provide with appropriate expert support.
On receipt of notification that this recommendation is accepted, the Court will nominate the independent facilitator.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th July, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.