INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Implementation of agreements.
2. In July 2000, the Union and An Post Management concluded negotiations on a draft agreement entitled the Transformation through Partnership in An Post Agreement (TTP). Following acceptance of this agreement the Union worked in partnership with An Post and concluded further agreements, one of these being the Outward Mails Concentration Agreement November 2002. As a consequence of this agreement 74 out of 87 offices had concentrated their outward mail as of April, 2004. The remaining thirteen offices were and still are due to concentrate to the Cork Mail Centre.
A meeting took place between the parties on 2nd September, 2004 at which the Company sought fulfilment of the Mails Concentration Agreement. The Union requested time to consult with local branches and a further meeting took place on the 30th September, 2004, at which no agreement was reached.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and the matter became the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 9th February, 2005, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 27th April, 2005.
3. 1. No agreement exists between the Union and the Company that provides for completion of Outward Mails Concentration by January 2004.
2. No agreement exists between the Union and the Company to close all existing Letter Forwarding Offices.
3. No agreement exist with the Union for Mails Automation, which is independent of the TTP Agreement.
4. 1. The Outward Mails Concentration Agreement provides for 'full outward concentration to the four Automated Sorting Centres at Dublin, Portlaoise, Athlone and Cork'.
2. Once full mails concentration is achieved there is no operational requirement for Letter Forwarding Offices.
In the course of the hearing the Company sought to raise issues in relation to proposals for full automation of mail sortation and a proposal from the LRC in that regard. These issues were not before the Court in this referral and consequently are not addressed in this recommendation. The Court would, however, urge the parties to proceed in a manner which will bring finality to those issues in accordance with what was previously agreed.
While a broad range of issues have been referred to by the parties in their submissions at the hearing and subsequently, it appears to the Court that the net issue is whether or not there is justification for retaining the Letter Forwarding Offices in circumstances where they are no longer operationally required in mail sortation. In the Court's view the continued retention of these offices is not justified. In that regard it is noted that agreement has been reached locally on the closure of a number of LFO's.
The Court does not accept that the completion of an agreement on clerical grade pay or collection and delivery (which is the subject of separate negotiation / investigation) should be a condition precedent to finalisation of agreement on the closure of LFO's. Other issues have, however, been raised by the Union in its submission to the Court relating to the impact of the Company's proposals on affected staff which should be resolved before the offices are finally closed.
The Court recommends that the parties now agree that all outstanding LFO's be closed not later than 1st September 2005. The parties should engage in discussions on the outstanding issues identified by the Union (other than clerical pay and collection and delivery) immediately following acceptance of this recommendation. These discussions should continue for not more than six weeks. If there is any disagreement on any of these issues at the expiry of that timeframe, those issues should be referred back to the Court at that time so as to allow for the Court to investigate and recommend upon those issues in sufficient time to allow the final closure to proceed on the date recommended.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th May, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.