INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY O'MARA GERAGHTY MCCOURT SOLICITORS)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Dispute in relation to termination of contract.
2. The worker joined the University in 1988 as an Assistant Lecturer. He is currently Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Limerick, a position he has held since September 2000. In 1994 he was appointed to the Jean Monnet Chair as Professor of European Institutions and International Studies. He was one of three such Chairs at the University of Limerick. The Jean Monnet project involved the creation of special university professorships made possible by a partnership scheme between the European Commission and the University in question whereby the salary of successful candidates is topped up for the first three years by the Commission and subsequently by the University for at least a further four years.
On appointment to the Professorship the worker raised the issue of his salary and what would happen after the initial seven year period. He claims he was assured that "you never go back down" and that he would remain at Professorial level.
In October 2000 the worker was invited by the President of the University to serve as Dean of Graduate Studies for the period 1 September 2000 to 31 August 2003 and then for a further period from 1 September 2003 to 31 August 2006, which he accepted. In December 2004 the worker was informed by the Director of Human Resources that he would revert to his Lecturer's salary as and from 1 September 2006 and that his appointment as Professor was effectively terminated retrospectively as and from 1 September 2001. He would however continue to use the title of "Professor".
The issue was referred to the Labour Court on the 9th May, 2005, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th October,2005.
The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1.The worker's letter of appointment did not limit the tenure of his position to seven years.
2. The worker received assurances from the Head of Department and the then Dean of College that his salary would remain at Professorial levelon completion of his seven year term as a Jean Monnet Professor.
3. The net effect of a return to Lecturer's salary is a demotion which will adversely impact on the worker's credibility and therefore on his ability to discharge the responsibilities of a senior academic leading the graduate studies area both internally and externally.
4. 1.The worker's letter of appointment to the 'Jean Monnet' chair clearly referred to the Commission Contract, which in turn makes reference to a 7-year period.
2.In a memo which was copied to the worker it was pointed out that his salary could in theory return to it's original level after completion of the 7-year period.
3. There is no evidence to show that assurances were given to the worker concerning the retention of a Professorial salary on termination of his position.
The dispute before the Court relates to a claim that the claimant should be paid a professorial salary regardless of whether the claimant continues to act as Dean of Graduate Studies after August 2006. The claimant also seeks the withdrawal of a letter from the University date 22nd December 2004.
The Claimant sought clarity on the assurances that he understood had been requested on his behalf regarding the continuation of his status and remuneration (salary plus a non-pensionable allowance) as a Jean Monnet Chair beyond the seven years provided by the European Commission. In the absence of any response forthcoming from the University and the continuation of the remuneration attached to that position beyond its expiry date in 2001, he assumed that it was continuing on indefinitely.
Since August 2000 he was appointed as a University Dean, and had continued to be paid the same non-pensionable allowance as the Jean Monnet Chair. A letter of 22nd December 2004 from the University stated that this payment would continue until the expiry date of his post as Dean of Graduate Studies which is due to take effect from 1st September 2006. This notification gave rise to his concern regarding his loss of the non-pensionable allowance for the future and his reversion to basic Lecturer salary only.
Having examined all the details of this case, the Court understands the claimant’s concern regarding his loss of remuneration, which may result in a substantial loss of earnings for him. The Court accepts that this difficulty arose primarily due to a lack of communication from the University with regard to the termination of the Jean Monnet Chair in his case, thereby leaving the matter open – ended until the letter of 22nd December 2004.
The Court does not see how the Jean Monnet Chair can be voided retrospectively as was stated in the letter of 22nd December 2004, therefore the Court is of the view that that aspect of the letter has no effect.
The Court accepts that the appointment of Dean of Graduate Studies is within the remit of the University and the Court cannot and would not interfere in that decision.
However, at the present time there is no loss of earnings and his title will continue to be that of “Professor”, therefore, in all the circumstances of this case, the Court is of the view that a recommendation on the claim should be deferred until sometime after 1st September 2006, to consider the facts pertaining at that time. Consequently, if the claimant deems it necessary, the Court will hear the case and issue a recommendation at that time.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th November, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.