INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
NATIONAL BUS & RAIL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Proposed productivity agreement for Engineering Operatives.
2. Bus Eireann has been in negotiations for some time with both Unions in relation to a draft productivity agreement for Engineering Operatives (E.O.'s) (semi-skilled and unskilled maintenance staff) There are 130 E.O.'s employed by the Company in various locations around the country. The issues before the Court concern the Company's proposals under a Productivity/Flexibility Agreement. The areas in dispute are:
- Closure of the Central Stores (Broadstone)
- Limerick Garage
- Tralee Garage
- - finishing times for evening staff
- use of contractors
- flexibility in allocating available staff to shunting duties
- washing of private vehicles on a commercial basis
- Unpaid meal breaks on shifts
- The utilisation of private contractors
- Payment of wages by electronic transfer
- Team leaders
- The Company's offer for a wage increase coupled with a lead in payment to include a loss of earnings claim
- Reorganisation of the Canteen, Broadstone.
3.1 Attempts at resolution have been on-going for over three years
2. Regarding the payment of wages by electronic transfer and the issue of paid half hour meal breaks, the Union's position is that the E.O.'s must be treated in exactly the manner as Craftworkers with whom conditions were always closely related.
3. Traditionally negotiations on management's proposals to alter the working practices of Craftworkers would also involve the Engineering Operative grade. On the basis that negotiations on the Company's proposals with the Craftworkers was extended to include flexibilities that would have major implications for the E.O.
4. The Unions concede that it is regrettable that with all parties being genuinely committed to find a level of common ground further progress on some of the issues should have been possible. The parties should commit themselves to conclude negotiations to the maximum extent possible on all the outstanding issues.
4.1 The maintenance functions in Bus Eireann are subject to on-going change and the Company must be in position to adapt to the changing environment.
2. The competition facing Bus Eireann is getting more intense and multi-nationals have now entered the long distance bus market.
3. Any new Public Transport Regulatory Framework and Bus Route Licensing Regulations will not reduce the level of competition. It will more than likely have the opposite effect.
4. The Company's financial situation is deteriorating as revenues begin to decline. If costs rise through special pay increases without achieving any real productivity in return then the future will be very bleak for all in the organisation. Failure to generate funds for fleet investment will also accelerate the decline.
5. The Company's productivity pay offer should be given every consideration by the Unions, bearing in mind that there is no direct pay relationship with Craftworkers.
6. E.O.'s in Bus Eireann are presently on similiar pay rates to those applying in Dublin Bus.
Having listened to the oral and written submissions of the parties, it seems clear that the parties feel that given more time, they could achieve agreement on a number of issues.
There are, however, a number of matters where the parties are requesting that the Court make a recommendation.
There is disagreement as to the precise relationship/relevance of the 1998 agreement which refers to pay rates and job descriptions relating to the work of the Craftworkers and Engineering Operatives (E.O.'s). There is no agreement in respect of training opportunities for E.O.'s under the proposed new agreement for E.O.'s, in that all Crafts will be expected to training individually and collectively. Training for E.O.'s will be solely at the discretion of Management.
The Company has reached agreement with the Craftworkers in relation to loss of earnings, vis-a-vis shift and overtime, but is refusing to apply the same formula to E.O.'s in this instance. It is offering a single consolidated lump sum to cover all losses.
In regard to these matters the Court finds that the 1998 agreement indicates a relationship with respect to the demarcation between the Craft and E.O. work and although there had been no established percentage in pay prior to this date, this agreement established a relationship however tenuous. On this occasion, the new agreement proposes a degree of overlap between the workers in the two groups.
In this regard then it would seem logical that in relation to training, all E.O.'s should have the same opportunities for training as do the Craftworkers.
In relation to any losses occurring through loss of shift or overtime than the same formula as applied to Craftworkers should apply to E.O.'s.
In respect of pay rates, it would seem that if there is to be an overlap between the work carried out by the two groups which, in effect, establishes and reinforces any previous tenuous pay relationship (providing productivity and flexibilities are negotiated) then negotiations should proceed on these lines.
The Court therefore recommends that these matters be implemented as a means of allowing the parties to begin negotiations on the other matters in which they are seeking further time to reach agreement. If these cannot be resolved they should then be referred back to the Court and the Court will make definitive recommendations accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th October, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.