INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
2. The dispute relates the Union's claim on behalf of 14 Agricultural Development Officers (Grades 1 and 11) for upgrading to Grade 111. The group of fourteen includes Farm Advisors, Specialist Advisers, Education Officers, and College Teachers. They were part of a group of 47 Assistant Agricultural Inspectors (Established Civil Servants) who were transferred from the Department of Agriculture to ACOT in 1983 and subsequently to Teagasc in 1988. The Union claims that the workers concerned have been seriously disadvantaged in respect to their access to promotional opportunities, compared with the normal career progress of Agricultural Inspectors in the Department of Agriculture and that had they remained in the Department of Agriculture they would
most likely have been promoted to the equivalent of Grade 111. Management rejected the claim. 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 21st September, 2005 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 30th June, 2006, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. At present the 14 claimants are at a grade less than Agricultural Inspector (Teagasc Grade 111). In contrast, all 26 Assistant Agricultural Inspectors who remained in the Department of Agriculture in 1983 are currently at the grade of Agricultural Inspector or higher.
2. In 1982 a claim was submitted on behalf of staff transferred at AAI grade from the Department of Agriculture to ACOT for more favourable assimilation into the new ACOT grading structure. In LCR 7649 the Court recognised the particular circumstances of the claimants. The recommendation was rejected by ACOT. Subsequently following negotiations, the ACOT Staff Scheme which covered procedures by way of a Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), binding on both parties, was accepted in 1983. The Union contends that the ACOT Staff Scheme is effectively a contract of employment . The ACOT Staff Scheme and the JNC agreement was passed on the premise that
(a) Management had difficulties with LCR 7649
(b) Management recognised that " a serious and special problem exists for former Assistant Agricultural Inspectors " and undertook in good faith to resolve the problem within a reasonable time. This has not happened.
3. The claimants circumstances were further recognised by the Chadwick Agreement which provided for an end of year review regarding transferred staff which did not take place.
4. The failure to resolve the problem, that Management recognised on a number of occasions, has dragged on for over twenty years and has serious financial consequences for the claimants many of whom are approaching retirement.
4. 1. The claimants transferred out of the Department of Agriculture twenty six years ago without any particular rights to promotion and indeed no such rights pertain within the civil service. Since that time the claimants have been fully assimilated into the advisory and training grades and have had every access to promotional competitions on the same basis as their colleagues.
2. The Court is being asked to recommend special arrangements for the claimants when such arrangements did not form part of the agreements reached in 1983 ( introduction of Staff Scheme) or in 1994 (Chadwick Agreement). All agreements on promotions since 1983 have been on the basis that qualified staff can compete for positions irrespective of their former "origin" or employer.
3. It is a fact that, arising from these promotions 13 of the 14 claimants have been promoted to Grade 11 level. This means that 13 of the claimants are on salaries that are equivalent to 85% of the maximum of the Grade 111 scale, having moved through the agreed competitive interview process and having previously been on salaries equivalent to 73 % of the maximum.
4. Only eight of the claimants applied for promotion to Grade 111 in the last promotion competition in 2002. The possibility of 'ring fencing' fillable Grade 111 promotional posts for the claimants was not acceptable in 1983 and has never been acceptable to the other 496 Grade 1 and 11 staff who are eligible to compete for any vacancies that arise at Grade 111 level.
5. Over the years, a considerable number of civil servants have transferred to state organisations on the same basis as the claimants. Any concession to the claimants could have far reaching and costly implications in terms of 'knock- on' claims.
Having considered the submissions of the parties and the history of his long -running dispute, it is the view of the Court that the particular cases of the 14 workers have merit.
In that context and given the unique nature of the case, the Court recommends that the parties should meet with a view to arriving at a position where each of the 14 claimants could retire as Grade 111 officers and could enjoy the pension and lump sum entitlements appropriate to workers retiring at that grade.
This is very clearly a one-off situation which is envisaged by the Court and which has arisen from a particular and unique case history. The Recommendation of the Court may not be used as a precedent for any other case or situation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.