INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Full Implementation of the Sustaining Progress(SP) Agreement.
2. The Association's claim for payment of the full terms of the SP Agreement was part of a claim submitted by An Post Group of Unions in July, 2005. The claim was discussed at the Labour Relations Commission and Assessors were appointed as provided for under SP. The Company paid an amount of 5% on the 1st January, 2005 as recommended by the Assessors. The Court issued recommendation LCR 18261 in July, 2005. At the same time the Court issued LCR 18260 in relation to change and productivity mainly in the Collection and Delivery area, matters exclusively within the responsibility of the Company and the CWU. Both of these recommendations were linked by the Labour Court to the payment of SP for all An Post employees and is, de facto, dependent on acceptance by CWU of LCR 18260 in respect of Collection and Delivery. However, LCR 18260 has been rejected by CWU and a ballot for industrial action on LCR 18261 has been concluded. The Association claims that it concluded a very comprehensive productivity agreement with the Company in 2004 that the Company should pay the terms of the SP Agreement to its members. 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 on the 25th October, 2005 in accordance with Section 26(1)of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 28th October, 2005.
3. 1. The changes provided for in 2004 under LCR 17967 provided for the most fundamental changes in management of the Company since 1984. The changes included entirely new management structures, a 30 % reduction in management numbers, the creation of a Redeployment Centre for unassigned staff , increased flexibility and radical changes in terms and conditions of employment. The Agreement for Change and Productivity has been fully honoured by the Association and the savings have been delivered. The Association expects the Company to honour its side of the bargain.
2, The position on SP, however, is now untenable as far as the Association is concerned. Despite the fact that the Company originally indicated, on the change of its top management in 2003, that SP would be paid as soon as the productivity agreements were concluded and, despite the fact that the Association has entered into and delivered on a very fundamental Change and Productivity Agreement, there is no prospect of members receiving SP because of the linkage with LCR 18260, relating to Collection and Delivery which has been rejected by the CWU.
3. It is fundamentally unfair to the claimants who have no influence on Collection and Delivery and who have given all the productivity and savings required not to pay them the full terms of SP. The question of providing for delayed payment of back-money is not justifiable in the case of the claimants.
4. 1. The Company is not unsympathetic to the situation in which the Association finds itself following the decision by the CWU to reject LCR 18261. However, the Company does not accept that SP should be paid immediately to the claimants in full, and as it falls due, because they have concluded and are implementing a change and restructuring agreement. The Association has not taken a decision regarding LCR 18261. The Company cannot accept any change to the Labour Court's recommendation as set out in LCR 18261. To do so would undermine the Company's Recovery Strategy, the Assessors Report and LCR 18261.
2. The key question regarding the ability of the Company to pay the terms of SP has already been the subject of a comprehensive examination by the Assessors. This question has been clearly addressed in their Report dated 26th May, 2005. Following the Group of Unions rejection of the Assessors report the Labour Court heard and considered detailed submissions from all parties and issued LCR 18261. The Company has accepted this recommendation. Accordingly the Company's position is that the matter is now finalised and there can no further change to that position. The Company does not have the ability to make any further payments under SP without the savings arising from the implementation of all the change programmes in order to fund the enormous additional costs arising from the SP Agreement.
In Recommendation LCR18261 the Court dealt with a group claim and issued a single adjudication addressed to the Unions collectively. One constituent Union rejected that Recommendation. It is contended by the Union associated with this claim that in consequence of that rejection it is powerless to meet the conditions precedent to the payment of increases due under Sustaining Progress("S.P.") identified by the Court in LCR18261. The Union contends that since it has delivered that degree of change sought from its members they should be paid the increases due in full and on time.
The Court accepts that in the circumstances now pertaining the Union's claim that it has fulfilled the requirements for the payment of the Sustaining Progress increases, in so far as it is capable of doing, has merit. The Court further accepts that the benefits which will accrue from the changes in work practice agreed by the Union are of sufficient significance to allow the Company to meet the pay terms of Sustaining Progress in respect of those associated with the present claim.
In these circumstances the Court is of the view that it would be unreasonable for the Company to withhold the increases at issue from members of AHCPS. Accordingly the Court recommends that the increases be paid to those associated with this claim on the basis set out by the Court in LCR18261, which was as follows :
The phasing of increases under Sustaining Progress, if fully implemented, would be as follows:
1st Part Sustaining Progress
3% with effect from 1st November 2003
2% with effect from 1st August 2004
2% with effect from 1st February 2005
2nd Part Sustaining Progress
1.5% with effect from 1st May 2005
1.5% with effect from 1st November 2005
2.5% with effect from the 1st May 2006
The 5% increase already implemented should be regarded as including the 3% due on the 1st November 2003 and the 2% due on the 1st of August 2004, under the 1st part of Sustaining Progress.
The 2% increase due on the 1st February 2005 under the 1st part of Sustaining Progress and the 1.5% increase due on 1st May 2005 under the second part of Sustaining Progress should be paid with effect from the due dates.
Further increases should be paid as they become due.
Arrears / Retrospection
The Court further recommends that the retrospection of the increases recommended above to the dates on which they would have otherwise been due should be regarded as a liability due to employees. The amount due should be discharged when the Company is returned to reasonable and sustainable profit and its financial and commercial circumstances permit.
The payment of the amounts due should be jointly considered by the parties at the end of the next financial reporting period (and the end of each reporting period thereafter as necessary) having regard to the financial circumstances of the Company. Payment of the retrospection can, if necessary, include appropriate phasing. In considering the payment of retrospection the parties should consider giving priority to the amounts due on pensions.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st November, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.