INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
RADIO TELEFIS EIREANN
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-036833-IR-05/DI.
2. The appeal concerns a worker who is employed as a Media Sales Assistant (MSA) Grade 3 in the Company's Radio Division. Her role in Radio involves supporting the Direct Sales Business. She also has a role in the administration of the Company's "Supporting the Arts" campaigns. She reports to the Sales and Marketing Manager. The Claimant is on point 8 of the salary scale with progression to points 9 and 10 on a merit basis. In 1999 the MSA's received salary increases of 8.5 % following an Agreement on the restructuring of their duties. The post held by the Claimant was subject to an internal Clerical Administrative job evaluation. The evaluation determined that it was correctly graded at Grade 3. The Claimant was unhappy with the outcome of this review and appealed the issue to the Company's Industrial Relations Tribunal. Following a hearing in November, 1999, the Tribunal decided to enlist the assistance of an Independent Evaluator. On receipt of the Independent Evaluator's report it was concluded that the Claimant's post was correctly graded. In 2001 the Company's Industrial Relations Tribunal recommended that the MSA Grade should no longer be part of the Clerical/Administrative structure and recommended that grade salaries be increased to equate to the Clerical / Administrative scales with the MSA level equating to Administrative Grade 1. In January, 2004, an Agreement was reached on the Merit Bar criteria for the MSA grade in Radio Division. The Claimant's performance was reviewed on the 7th April, 2004. The outcome of this review was that her Line Manager did not approve her increment due to her failure to achieve agreed targets. In February, 2004, the Claimant requested that her current work role be reviewed under the Clerical Administrative Review process. Management informed the Claimant that as the MSA grade was no longer part of the Clerical Administrative structure it was not appropriate to review her role under that process. However, it was agreed to review the Claimant's role using a questionnaire completed by the Claimant and a document completed by the Claimant's Line Manager. The review concluded in August, 2004, and resulted in Management concluding that the Claimant was correctly graded as an MSA Grade 3. In June, 2005, the Union wrote to the Company expressing the Claimant's dissatisfaction with her grade and requesting an independent Job Evaluation exercise be carried out in her position. The Union also expressed the view that the criteria for progression beyond the Merit Bar were inappropriate in view of the Claimant's job responsibilities. The Company indicated that the Claimant's grade was appropriate to her role and that the criteria used to assess progression beyond the Merit Bar had been agreed with the Union. As agreement was not reached the dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. On the 7th April, 2006, the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:-
"Having considered the comprehensive submissions submitted by both parties I recommend that the claimant accepts the outcome of the reviews carried out to date that have found that she is correctly graded at Media Sales Assistant level.
I find that the merit bar criteria, agreed between the Company and SIPTU , applies to all Media Sales Assistants and that progression through the merit bar point is subject to a jobholder fulfilling the agreed criteria. I, therefore, find against the claimant's claim that she be allowed to progress through the merit bar point at this time."
On the 8th May, 2006, the Union appealed the Recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal on the 5th December, 2006.
3. 1. Although the Claimant is currently graded as an MSA the duties which she carries out are substantially different to those carried out by her colleagues in the Media Sales area. The Claimant does not only support the Radio Sales Business but she deals directly with clients, generates sales, constantly cold-calling clients and manages the complete Direct Sales Portfolio and RTE Supporting the Arts plus she attends credit control account meetings regularly, credit payments and follows up on such, and liaises with both direct sales agents on their accounts and the credit control manager when such accounts are overdue. She also processes and schedules the sales generated. There is no comparison between the Claimant's role and that of other Media Sales Assistants. They do not deal or liaise directly with the Client and they do not manage RTE Supporting the Arts.
2. The application of the Merit Bar criteria to the Claimant's position on the same basis as applied to her colleagues is fundamentally flawed. She meets the criteria set out in the Agreement albeit in a slightly different manner. The Company has acted in a totally unreasonable manner in refusing to allow the Claimant to progress to the top of her scale.
3. As can be seen from the job evaluation questionnaire completed by the Claimant her role is very responsible and demanding. The evaluation exercise carried out by the Company in 2004 did not take into account all of the responsibilities and duties performed by the Claimant. She should be upgraded or at least an agreed outside third party should be allowed to adjudicate on this issue. The Claimant should also be allowed to progress to the top of her scale.
4. 1. The Claimant has had her role reviewed on two separate occasions over the past number of years . On both occasions it was found that she was correctly graded for the work she performs. Arising from the first review the Determination was appealed to the RTE Industrial Relations Tribunal which sought the assistance of an outside independent consultant, arising from which the Company decision was upheld. Nothing has changed since 1999, in terms of the Claimant's responsibilities relating to either supporting direct sales business and the independent agents on how she deals with other direct accounts or Supporting the Arts campaigns.
2.. The Claimant must look realistically at her role and the work she performs on a day to day basis and realise that the grading is appropriate to this work. Were the Company to award an upgrading to the Claimant this would be a fundamental error of judgement by those involved. It would diminish considerably what constitutes a management role across the organisation and leave it open to every other Media Sales Assistant to enter a claim for a similar upgrading.
3. The negotiations on the Merit Bar criteria were concluded on the basis that all Media Sales Assistants were encompassed by it. At no point in time was the Claimant's position raised as one where it was felt the criteria would not be applicable to her. More importantly, however, the Claimant's role is not different to that of her colleagues and she performs the same basic functions as all others in the area. The criteria are quite specific and cannot be taken as not applying to her role. The Claimant was given every opportunity to progress beyond the Merit Bar point, however, she has not been willing to engage with the criteria at any point in time despite proposals put forward by Management.
Having considered the extensive volume of oral and written submissions placed before it by the parties, the Court decides that the Recommendation of the Rights Commissioner was correct and upholds it, dismissing the appeal.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th December, 2006
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.