INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
AN POST NATIONAL LOTTERY COMPANY (NLC)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. 1. Pension Scheme for new entrants 2. Payment date for change allowance.
2. The parties are in dispute over Paragraphs 22.1 (10.5% change allowance) and Paragraph 8.4 (pension provision for new entrants) of the Draft Change Agreement.
Claim 1 Pension Scheme.The Company require new entrants to be members of An Post Subsidiary Companies Pension Scheme which is a defined contribution scheme. The Union claims that the Company is not under any pressure to introduce a defined contribution scheme and claims that the existing defined benefit scheme should be available to new entrants.
Claim 2 Payment Date.Labour Court Recommendation 18380 set out the basis for the payment of a change allowance to staff in An Post represented by PSEU- a 3.5% pay increase backdated to 7th October, 2004 and a further 7% to be paid in two phases as and when specified staff reduction targets were achieved. The Company propose that the exact same payment terms would apply to staff in the National Lottery Company (NLC). The Union claims that the NLC staff should be paid the 10.5 % increase effective from 1st August, 2003, the date from which a similar increase was paid to members of the CPSU union in the NLC.
Management rejected the claims. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A Conciliation Conference was held but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 17th January, 2006, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 7th February, 2006.
3. 1.Pension scheme. The Union has no objections to any worker becoming a member of An Post Subsidiary Companies Pension Scheme in itself. However, the Union does not accept that there is any valid argument for this development in respect of new staff.
2. The NLC is very successful .There is absolutely no imperative on the Company to make such potentially dramatic changes to the pension entitlements of future staff.
3. Under the terms of its Management Agreement with the Department of Finance the Management fee paid by the Department is designed to cover administrative costs, including staff costs. Therefore, superannuation contributions are covered, in effect, by the Department of Finance.
4.Payment date. The NLC is among the most successful companies in the country, in contrast to An Post. The financial assessors appointed to determine An Post's claimed inability to pay the increases under SP recognised that circumstances as between An Post and NLC were different and recommended immediate payment in full of all monies due to staff in the NLC, while making different and less favourable recommendations in respect of staff in An Post.
5. The whole process of the Draft Change Agreement is to start facilitating a staff separation between An Post and NLC in so far as the Claimants are concerned. The attempt to maintain an absolute pay linkage between the Claimants in the NLC and their equivalents in An Post in circumstances where the Draft Change Agreement commences a process of de-coupling makes no sense.
6. The cooperation and flexibility shown by the claimants in order to ensure the continued success of the NLC has been acknowledged by the Company.
7. The Company can afford to meet the Union's claims for full backdating of the 10.5% increase to 1st August, 2003, which is the date for which an identical payment was made to members of the CPSU.
4 1.Pension.The Company's requirement that new entrants to the Company should become members of An Post Subsidiary Companies Pension Scheme would bring the pension arrangements in the NLC into line with those in An Post's other main subsidiary companies and ensure that the cost base of the Company remains competitive compared to the many private sector companies, both national and international, who will be seeking to win the licence to operate the national lottery from the NLC.
2.Payment Date. The Company does not accept that there is any justification for an earlier payment date for the first phase of the change allowance for staff in the NLC represented by the Union than that which has already been recommended by the Court for staff in An Post represented by the same union under LCR 18380.
3. Payment of the change allowance from the same date as in An Post to the NLC would involve the payment of sixteen months retrospection to the staff concerned, in circumstances where staff in the NLC represented by CPSU, who concluded a similar agreement with the Company, got no retrospection. In addition, since 1992 the claimants have been in receipt of a special allowance, currently €1,682 per annum, for the additional flexibility for which they are now seeking earlier payment of the change allowance under the new agreement. This would be an unacceptable situation.
Having considered the submissions of the parties the Court recommends, as follows:-
Pension Scheme for new entrants
The Court does not believe that a sufficiently compelling case has been made out for the introduction of a defined contribution pension scheme for new entrants. Accordingly, the Court does not recommend that the Company's proposal in that regard be conceded.
Payment date for change allowance
The Court is satisfied that this case can be distinguished from that dealt with in LCR 18380. In that case the Company argued that concession of a similar claim by the Union would lead to repercussive claims from a larger group within An Post. It was further argued that the economic circumstances of An Post were such as to preclude concession of the claim. Neither consideration arises in the present case.
Furthermore, there was no correlation between the Change Agreement which the AHCPS concluded with An Post and that which it concluded with the National Lottery Company. In these circumstances there is no logical basis for aligning PSEU members in the National Lottery Company with AHCPS members in An Post for the purpose of the present claim. Finally, at the hearing leading to Recommendation LCR 18380, neither party argued nor suggested that the settlement of the dispute under investigation should have automatic application to the National Lottery Company.
For all of these reasons the Court is satisfied that the current claim should be considered on its own merits.
The Court notes that the PSEU and the CPSU were negotiating in parallel on a proposed Change Agreement. The Company's offer of a 10.5% change allowance to the CPSU, made in August, 2003, undoubtedly created a legitimate expectation amongst PSEU members that they would be similarly treated. On foot of that expectation the members of the PSEU cooperated fully with the change programme to the same extent as those who had been paid the change allowance. Moreover, the delay in finalising the agreement with the PSEU appeared to arise from a realisation by both sides that priority should be given to addressing compelling issues which had arisen in the Parent Company. This delay did not disadvantage the Company in any way, as the staff concerned continued to cooperate with whatever change was required of them.
In all those circumstances the Court believes that it would be unreasonable to treat those associated with this claim less favourably than their colleagues in the CPSU in terms of the timing and phasing of the change allowance. The Court, therefore, recommends that the payments to the Claimant grades be from the same date as applied to the CPSU.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th February, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.