INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
LIMERICK CITY COUNCIL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Claim for payment of Final Phase of Parallel Benchmarking.
2. The Union is in dispute with Limerick City Council arising from the Council’s refusal to pay the final phase of the Parallel Benchmarking award to General Operatives. The Council have sought the transfer of 8 general operative from the Cleansing Department to other Departments. The Union cannot agree to transfers of workers out of the Cleansing Department while the cleansing function remains supported by Job Initiative Staff (J.I.s is aFÁSCommunity employment project that the City Council and SIPTU have supported for some years). The Union have suggested to the City Council that the J.I. participants be transferred to wherever the need for additional staff arises. This was unacceptable to the City Council. It is the only matter not agreed from all of the items on the modernisation and change agenda and has been the subject of numerous meetings at local level.
The dispute could not be 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 dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 20th April, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 15th June, 2006.
3.1 The Union acknowledge that the issue of transfer has been decided at national level and are not opposed to transfers per se. The Union's objection arises from the Council's decision to transfer workers unnecessarily from cleansing to other departments. The cleansing function is currently supported by 8 Job Initiative participants.
2. It is not acceptable to the Union that the suggested transfer plan as outlined would see the J.I. participants remaining within the cleansing department while the workers concerned would be transferred out.
3. Failure to achieve the transfers has resulted in the non payment of the last phase of Benchmarking and the final phase of Sustaining Progress, despite that fact that all other issues have been agreed with the cleansing department.
4.1 The Council has not recommended payment of increases due since June 2005 because under terms of Sustaining Progress it is obliged to report to the Performance Verification Group nationally on progress it has made in implementing its modernisation agenda. A key component of this agenda is the transfer and redeployment of general operatives.
2. The manner by which the deployment of staff should be considered and change implemented is set out in the National Agreement.
3. There is no long-term merit in redeploying the J.I. staff currently employed in the Environment Department to other Departments, a number of which already have J.I. staff amongst their workforce.
4. It is clear that the redeployment of general operative formed part of the national agreement and that Limerick City Council, in delivering its service, required the facility to respond to work demands and to redeploy its staff as necessary.
The Court considers it regrettable that the Council did not accept the recommendations put forward by the National Local Authority Council in August, 2005. In the Court's view those proposals provided a practical and reasonable basis upon which the dispute could have been resolved. It is noted however, that because of subsequent events neither party now regards the approach recommended as viable.
The Court is satisfied that the Agreement on Modernisation for General Operatives in Local Authorities is clear in its provisions on transfers and that the City Council is entitled to transfer staff within the terms of that Agreement. Any issues around the employment of Job Initiative staff are a separate matter which cannot offset the clear provisions of the National Agreement.
The Court recommends that all arrears of Benchmarking and Sustaining Progress be paid in full and that the workers concerned agree to transfer within the terms of the Agreement. Selection for transfer should be on the basis of the criteria agreed between the parties.
The Court further recommends that issues relating to staffing levels overall and the deployment of staff recruited on the jobs initiative scheme should be discussed between the parties at local level.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th June, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.