INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CORK COUNTY COUNCIL (CORK FIRE BRIGADE)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Non Compliance with Code of Practice on Disciplinary Procedures
2. The case before the Court concerns a dispute between SIPTU and Cork County Council (Cork Fire Brigade) repesented by the Local Government Management Services Board (LGMSB) in relation to the current grievance and disciplinary procedures which operate for fire fighters employed by Cork County Council. The Union's position is that the current procedures are outdated and are not compliant with the Labour Relations Commision's Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.(S.I. 146 of 2000). The Union is seeking that the current procedures be amended at local level to reflect the right of representation, the types of disciplinary action imposed and the right of appeal to a third party and that all new procedures comply with S.I.146 of 2000.
Management accept that the current procedures are outdated and are in need of amendment to comply with current best practice but are unable to amend such procedures at local level. Such changes can only be implemented through discussions at the national level.
The dispute was not 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 matter was referred to the Labour Court on 27th January, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 15th June, 2006 the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. This issue is a local issue which should be dealt with at local level in compliance with the Labour Relations Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary procedures. (S.I. 146 of 2000)
2. There are currently disciplinary cases pending in Cork Fire Brigade and it is essential that acceptable procedures be put in place to deal with such matters. Entering into discussions at national level on these issues will result in lengthy delays, which is unacceptable to the Union and its members.
4. 1. As this is an issue with national implications, it should be raised at national nevel through the appropriate body. Currently there is a draft of revised procedures relating to National Disciplinary and Grievance procedures, which will be discussed between the appropriate bodies for implementation as soon as possible.
On behalf of Firefighters and Officers, the Union submitted a claim that the County Council’s “Cork Fire Brigade Discilpinary Code 1973” (revised May 1985) is out of date and is in breach of the Code of Practice Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (S.I. 146 of 2000).
Management accepts that the procedures are outdated and informed the Court that a working group under the guidance of the Local Government Management Services Board (LGMSB) met to draw up revised procedures for the Full-Time Fire Service and has now produced a draft. This group include representative of Full-Time Fire Services in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway,Waterford and Louth amongst others. Management submitted to the Court that this issue was a national issue and therefore, it was inappropriate to deal with it at local level, and should be dealt with through the National Joint Council.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court recommends that the parties should immediately embark on negotiations at national level through the National Joint Council on the LGMSB’s draft procedures and should ensure that newly agreed procedures comply with the Code of
Practice Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (S.I. 146 of 2000). Every effort should be made by the parties to ensure that the process should be carried out as expeditiously as possible. The Court recommends that it should be completed before the end of September 2006.
In the meantime, the Court recommends that disciplinary issues affecting Firefighters or Officers in Cork County Council should be dealt with in compliance with the principles outlined in the Code of Practice Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures (S.I 146 of 2000).
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd July 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.