INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRISH BLOOD TRANSFUSION SERVICE
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
IRISH MEDICAL ORGANISATION
MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS ASSOCIATION
IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Withdrawal of subsistence.
2. The case before the Court concerns a dispute between the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) and AGEMO, SIPTU, IMO, MLSA and the INO in relation to the re-instatement of subsistence allowance payable to employees of the IBTS. The payment had ceased in January, 2005, when the Revenue Commissioner instructed the IBTS that these payments must comply with the appropriate Revenue requirements. The IBTS ceased paying the allowance on the basis that it was inappropriate practice.
The Union is claiming that the payment be reinstated albeit in compliance with the Revenue guidelines.
The IBTS reject the claim.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was 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 27th of June, 2005, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 30th of September, 2005, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Revenue, in January 2005, stated that the payment should become tax compliant. It did not say the payment should be withdrawn altogether. The issue of compliance with Revenue guidelines is an issue to be addressed by the IBTS.
2. 1. The payment of the allowance was an inappropriate practice which was ceased following an audit by the Revenue Commissioners.
2. The reinstatement of the payment on a tax compliant basis would be cost increasing and precluded under National Wage Agreements.
It is clear to the Court that the payments at issue were either introduced by agreement in consideration of changes in work practice, or, have been long established by custom and practice. In either case they have become incorporated in the conditions of employment of the staff concerned. In these circumstances the Court does not accept that the payments can be simply withdrawn without agreement. The tax treatment of these payments is a matter to be determined by the Revenue Commissioners, and is not a matter for the Court.
The Court believes it is desirable that the Board be brought into line with normal practice within the public sector regarding the payment of allowances. The Court recommends that the parties commence discussions on an appropriate buy-out of allowances which are not authorised by the relevant Department of Finance Circulars. These discussions should also take account of arrears which would be due in respect of the period between the discontinuance of the allowances and the date on which agreement on their buy-out is reached.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th October, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.