INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
OFFICE OF PUBLIC WORKS
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Application of Tool Allowance.
2. The dispute concerns the Union's claim for the application of the craft tool allowance to 18 Office/ Stores Foremen who are employed in the drainage section of OPW. In 1998 as part of the Craft Analogue Agreement a bonus payment of £200 (€253.95) as tool allowance was made payable to the claimants alongside craft workers. Under the subsequent Benchmarking Proposals in 2004, the tool allowance was paid only to grades covered within the Craft Analogue Agreement. The Employer did not extend the payment to the claimants. The Union maintains that the claimants are amongst the parties who are within the ambit of the Agreement and are entitled to receive the payment. 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 8th March, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 14th June, 2006.
3. 1. The claimants together with their colleague Craft Foremen and Civil Engineering Foremen form part of the Craft Analogue pay structure and therefore, by right have an entitlement to the full awards governed under the craft tool allowance payment.
2. The claimants were entitled to and received the once-off £200 (€253.95) payment in relation to tool money which ultimately led to the establishment, as part of the Craft Parallel Benchmarking process, of the tool allowance money now in dispute. The Employer must be consistent and can only be so by paying the full award to the claimants.
3. The Employer decided in 2004 that the awards in dispute would not be payable to both Stores Foremen and Apprentices. However, Management subsequently conceded the right for the tool allowance money to be paid to apprentices. The claimants remain the only anomalous group governed by the comprehensive agreement not yet in receipt of the tool allowance.
4. Management may argue that the claimants are technically not crafts persons and therefore, have no entitlement and should not receive the payments concerned. However, Civil Foremen within the OPW are also not crafts, however, they received the full entitlement of the tool allowance. There are two Stores Foremen who were recently assigned to health and safety work in the drainage maintenance service. They have identical terms and conditions of employment as the claimants and are in receipt of the tool money.
5. The claimants are foremen and were in receipt of the £200 (€253.95)bonus for tool money in 1998 which was the precursor to the tool allowance as part of the Craft Analogue Agreement in 2003.
6. An agreement was brokered between SIPTU and NUI in Galway concerning the payment of the tool allowance to a discreet number of members in the recent past. The membership concerned in that issue, like the claimants, were also in receipt of the £200 (€253.95) tool money in 1998.
4. 1. The £200 (€253.95) payment made to the claimants arising out of the 1998 Craft Analogue Agreement was a once-off payment made 'on a without precedent' basis. There was no follow on between that payment and the annual tool allowance of €888 which arose from the Parallel Benchmarking process. Under the terms of the Agreement the tool allowance was payable to all 'working' craft persons i.e. Craftworkers, Craftsmates, Craft Chargehands and Craft Foremen. The Agreement did not provide for payment of the allowance to Stores Staff or Craft related grades who do not perform craft duties as part of their normal work.
2. To concede payment of the annual tool allowance to the claimants on the basis of their pay link would be inconsistent with the terms of the Parallel Benchmarking Agreement.
3. The claim has significant potential ramifications beyond the grades encompassed by the claim. The potential cost of knock-on claims to other Craft related grades is very substantial.
4. The Court did not recommend in favour of a similar claim on behalf of Workshop Instructors in April, 2006 (LCR 18519 refers).
5. The claimants have benefitted from the pay link to the Craft Foreman grade under Parallel Benchmarking by means of a 17.02% increase in pay. However, this does not entitle them to the payment of the tool allowance. It is open to the trade unions representing Stores/Office Foremen to raise the payment of any future allowance in the context of the next Parallel Benchmarking process.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Union's claim on behalf of 18 Office/Stores Foremen for the payment of a craft tool allowance. The Union submitted that the claimants should be paid the Craftworkers Tool Allowance in accordance with the Parallel Benchmarking Agreement 2003. The Union held the view that as these workers received a tool money payment in 1998 arising out of the 1998 Craft Analogue Agreement, they should also be entitled to the payment of this tool allowance.
Management disputed the Union's position stating that the Office /Stores Foremen do not perform craft duties, as part of their normal work and therefore, the Craftworkers Tool Allowance does not apply to them. It held the view that the 1998 payment was a once-off payment made on a without precedent basis and has no follow implication for the Parallel Benchmarking Agreement 2003.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court sees no basis for extending the application of the Craftworkers Tool Allowance as provided under the Parallel Benchmarking Agreement 2003 to Office/Stores Foremen employed by OPW. Therefore, the Court rejects the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd June, 2006
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.