INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SEAMEN'S UNION OF IRELAND
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. The Company operates ferry services between Dublin/Rosslare and the U.K. and between Rosslare and France. The French route operates between March and November/December each year on the ferryship 'M.V. Normandy'. The Union represents Pursers and Ratings on this ship.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Company's proposals to achieve viability in the operation of its Ireland/France service. In October 2004 the Company informed the Union that, arising from a review of the French route, it wished to outsource the crewing of the Normandy. The Union were opposed to outsourcing but anxious to engage with the Company to explore alternative cost cutting proposals. The Company estimated that savings in the region of €6.55m, to include outsourcing, could be made.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and 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 26th January, 2005, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14th February, 2005.
3. 1.The Union is totally opposed to outsourcing the employment of staff on the Normandy.
2. The Union is willing to engage in discussion with the Company in an effort to achieve cost savings.
3. The Union submit that the redeployment offered by the Company to its members is unsuitable as the nature of the work is not commensurate with their skills and experience.
4. 1.The Company contend that it can generate savings of €6.55m by outsourcing and engaging a Ship Management Agency to provide crews for the French service.
2. Outsourcing is now commonplace within the shipping industry internationally and the introduction of this policy will enable the route to remain viable and eliminate ongoing losses.
3. The Company is agreeable to the use of Consultant(s) to examine the business case for the Irish Sea.
Ship Management Contract
This dispute concerns proposals by the Company to achieve viability in the operation of its Ireland/France service. It came before the Court against the background of intensive negotiations at the LRC, industrial action which resulted in a cancellation of the Company's services and an intervention by the National Implementation Body. Following a statement issued by the NIB on 15th December 2004, which was accepted by all parties, it was agreed that all options to achieve a viable operation of the service would be explored without precondition.
The Company contend that savings of €6.55m can be generated in the cost of operating the service by engaging a Ship Management Agency to provide crews for its vessel operating the service. The Union, for its part, is opposed to outsourcing and have proposed significant changes in working conditions and practices which would make the route viable. They say that what is proposed by the Company goes beyond what is necessary to achieve this objective.
The Court notes that the type of arrangements proposed by the Company are now commonplace within the shipping industry internationally. It is also noted that the vast majority of the crew of the vessel have accepted voluntary severance from the Company and those remaining have been offered redeployment.
In these circumstances, and since there is no realistic prospect of the required savings being realised by alternative means in respect of the grades covered by this referral, the Court recommends that the Union should agree to the implementation of the Ship Management Contract in respect of Pursers and Ratings.
In its submission the Union told the Court that the redeployment offered by the Company to its members who formerly worked on the route is not suitable as the nature of the work offered is not commensurate with their skills and status within the Company. The Court considers that the Union's complaints in this regard have validity. However, since this matter is the subject of a separate referral to the LRC the Court does not consider it appropriate to make any recommendation on the issues involved at this time.
Irish Sea Route
In its submission to the Court the Company referred to the need to further review what it described as the business case for maintaining its Irish Sea service arising from loss of business on that route. The Court recommends that a review should be jointly conducted with the relevant unions and that it should involve agreed independent consultants.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th February, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.