INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Change and productivity improvement agreement.
2. The parties have been engaged in protracted on-going discussions on a productivity change agreement covering reduction in staff numbers, co-operation with change, flexibility, and specific changes to terms and conditions of employment. Under the proposed agreement the Union agreed to a 30% staff reduction and other changes in return for which a 10.5% increase in pay is to be given to workers, made payable in phases. Agreement was not reached on two related issues. The specific problem concerns the base-line date to be used in determining staffing numbers for the purpose of measuring reductions and the date of the first payment. As agreement was not reached on these issues and the Company was unwilling to have them referred to the Labour Relations Commission the Union referred a complaint to the Labour Court on the 25th October, 2005 under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held on the 2nd November, 2005.
3. 1. A specific commitment was given to the Union that if it co-operated with staff reductions while negotiations were on-going, this would be recognised in the form of back-dated payments. In May, 2004, the Union rejected a payment date for the first phase (3.5% ) as of 1st June, 20004 as it did not meet this commitment. The Company has now refused to offer any back-dating of increases, notwithstanding the fact that Union members have co-operated fully with reductions in numbers since 2002.
2. The Union is seeking a recommendation that the draft agreement should be finalised on the basis that the base-line date for measuring staff reductions is 1st January, 2002 and that as the Union has co-operated with reductions in numbers since that time, at least some proportion of the increases due should be back dated to that date.
4. 1. No commitment was given to the Union that productivity payments would be back-dated to a specific date and which would remain fixed in time ,regardless of how long it took to achieve an overall agreement. There is no agreement or outstanding liability on the Company 's behalf in this regard. Any commitments given at a particular point in time were given in the context of the agreed overall negotiating framework, i.e. nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
2. The Union has argued that its members are entitled to back-dating of increases as it has been co-operating with reductions in numbers since 2002. Two other unions, the AHCPS and the CWU, made similar arguments and claims. However, the Court in LCR 17967 dealing with AHCPS, supported the Company's arguments and did not provide for back-dating. Productivity agreements were paid from a current date, i.e. from the date of the Labour Court Recommendation. In addition the Court in LCR 18260 dealing with CWU grades also supported the Company's arguments and did not provide for retrospective application of increases. In this case the productivity payments will only be made from a current (date of agreement ) or future date.
3. Any concession to the Union on backdating of productivity payments could have direct repercussions for payment dates for productivity payments for groups of staff represented by other unions with serious financial consequences for the Company. Such a decision would undermine the basis of the Company's Strategic Recovery Plan and LCR's 18260 and 17967.
The Court recommends that the Union should accept the base line of 1st January, 2003, as proposed by the Company. However, having regard to the particular circumstances of this case the Court recommends that payments should commence with effect from 7th October, 2004 (the same date as applied to AHCPS).
The Court further recommends that the other terms should be in accordance with those set out in the draft agreement dated 17th June, 2005.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th November, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.