INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
OUR LADY GOOD COUNSEL SCHOOL
(REPRESENTED BY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & SCIENCE)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Compensation for re-location
2. The dispute before the Court concerns a claim by the Union on behalf of its member, a Special Needs Assistant, for compensation in respect of re-location from her former place of employment in Glanmire, Cork, to her current location, Ballincollig, Co. Cork. The worker commenced employment in Lota, Glanmire in 1979.
- Her employment contract stated "The school premises will normally be the place of employment". The Union contends that the worker's employment base was changed unilaterally without agreement, from Glanmire to Ballincollig, Co. Cork. In 2001, School Management advised the staff that their positions were transferring to a new school in Ballincollig. The worker was distressed and unhappy with this suggestion as it would mean a significant life change for her. She is unable to drive and previously could walk to her place of employment.
The Union believes that its member should be compensated for the re-location of her post, in line with other recent re-structuring recommendations within the Public Sector. The worker has been allowed to use the school bus, as this is on the route to Our Lady of Good Counsel. This is not a guaranteed arrangement and could arguably change in the future. The Union is seeking a commitment to retain the facility of using the school bus into the future and if at any time in the future the school bus route changes, that the worker is provided with payment to fully cover public transport to work.
Management rejects the claim on the basis that there has been a long standing policy in the Education Sector, following a decision by the Government in 1984, that has not been rescinded, that no payments for re-location will be made. The worker has also been offered and accepted a position as Bus Escort ( in addition to her post of Special Needs Assistant), which provides her with transportation to and from the school and additional remuneration in respect of the time spent travelling.
On the 21st April, 2005, the Unionreferred the issue to the Labour Court, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 1st February, 2006.
The Union agreed to be bound by the Court’s Recommendation.
3. 1.The move has dramatically decreased the worker's quality of life and home life. She spends approximately three hours longer travelling to work than previously. There is no guarantee that the facility of the school bus will continue into the future.
2.The worker’s contract confirmed her employment base as Lota, Glanmire and she had not agreed to move. The Union believes that the Department of Education and Science and Brothers of Charity Management were in breach of the worker’s contract of employment. At no point did the Department offer her any suitable alternative position or indeed offer her any compensation for the enforced re-location. This is unacceptable.
3.The worker has adjusted well in her new school and is not now seeking a transfer back to her old location of work but is seeking compensation accordingly.
4. 1.The Department of Education and Science in consultation with the Department of Finance has concluded that while the worker had been appointed prior to the move being proposed, she has since been offered and accepted a position as Bus Escort. The main duty of a bus escort is to supervise the Children travelling on the school bus. It is the view of the Department that such ongoing payment is adequate compensation for the re-location in these circumstances.
2. In 1984, the Government decided that in future no compensation would be paid for disturbance/re-location in the public sector. Traditionally, compensation for relocation had not been a feature of the Education Sector and there would be concerns regarding the implications of concession of any such claim for the rest of the Sector.
3. The relocation of the school was necessary and staff were kept fully informed and involved in the process at all times and stages. The school has made every effort to facilitate the worker, including her appointment as a Bus Escort so that she can get transportation to and from the school on a paid basis.
The claim before the Court, made on behalf of one Special Needs Assistant, concerns the relocation of the school from Glanmire to Ballincollig, which took place in September 2001. The Union, on behalf of the Claimant, sought the retention of free transport for her and payment of compensation for the effects of the move.
Management in response, stated to the Court that knowledge of the school’s relocation was known at least eight years in advance of the move and that the Claimant was provided with transportation to and from the school for which she was paid additional remuneration in respect of the time travelling. It stated that while it was not in a position to guarantee this form of transportation into the future, it had no intention at the present time of ceasing it.
The Court has considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions and notes that the Claimant opted to avail of a position as Bus Escort on a bus from Glanmire to the school in Ballincollig which provides her with free transport to and from her workplace and which pays her a sum of €6,700 per annum.
The Court notes management’s qualified assurance with regard to the continuation of this transportation, and taking account of all the circumstances, does not recommend in favour of the claim for compensation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th February, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.