INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Application of 6% to Senior Research Officers (SRO's).
2. Enterprise Ireland, an Agency of Forfas, was created as a result of a merger of An Bord Trachtala (ABT), Forbairt and a small number of employees from FAS. The different entities were brought together and arising from that process different grades, salaries and conditions emerged which were addressed in the context of integration and harmonisation. The Senior Scientific Officer (SSO) Grade in the Agencies is linked to Engineer Grade 1 in the Civil Service. SSOs were awarded 7.8 % under Benchmarking. One of the new grades was Level E which has a relativity with the Assistant Principal Officer Grade in the Civil Service who were awarded 13.8% under Benchmarking. The SSO grade is made up of former IDA Grade 3 and ABT Grade 6 staff. In order to achieve this single grade a Level E 'Solution' Grade was red-circled for staff on those grades in 1999.
The Grade which is the subject of this claim is that of Senior Research Officer (SRO). This Grade applied to members of staff recruited as Research Officers, based in Universities under research programmes formerly called Programmes in Advanced Technology (PATs) funded by Enterprise Ireland (EI). The SRO Grade, together with other EI Grades in the 'PAT' structure (Research Office and PAT Technician Grade) were stand alone Grades which Management claims had no pay relativity. As part of the resolution in June 2005 of a claim by the Union, a relativity was established. from the effective date of that Agreement (1st April, 2005). The relativity of the SRO Grade was established as being the same relativity at the Senior Scientific Officer (SSO) Grade
This claim by the Union concerns the application of an alleged 6% anomaly to Senior Research Officers (SROs) and Research Officers (ROs), PATs in situ at the time whose relationship is with SSOs and SOs) The application of Benchmarking to EI Grades resulted in an award of 7.8% to the SRO Grade. The Union sought the application of the award of 13.8% made to the SSO Grade. The 13/8% had been applied to the level E Solution Grade, a Grade which the Union claimed had a link with the SSO Grade as per Labour Court Recommendation LCR18096 identify and correcting an anomaly affecting the grade arising from the introduction of the Level E. Solution Grade in 1999.
In June 2005 an agreement was reached at the Labour Relations Commission between the Union and Enterprise Ireland in respect of Grade alignment for SRO. RO and PAT technician Grades. Management claims that this Agreement was accepted and implemented. However, an issue arose in respect of the SRO Grade which had not been raised during the discussions at the LRC and hence did not form part of the agreement.
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 30th May, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 29th September, 2006.
3.1 When the Benchmarking process and awards were finalised and applied to the various Grades the percentages applied were different, 7.8% was applied to the Engineers and 13.8% to the Assistant Principal officer. The Agencies awarded 13.8% to the Level Es and 7.8% to the SSOs. The effect of this was to create an anomaly of 6% between the Grades.
2. The Union contends that its claim cannot be invalidated because it was not raised specifically, adding that it would not be its practice to reference other categories affected by the 'marker' Grade until such time as agreement was reached and implemented for the SSO Grades. If the Union had sought application it would have been advised to await the outcome of the SSO and SO negotiations, thus it would be a pointless exercise.
3. The Union has an established history of making a claim on the Agency for the application to PATs when awards have been finalised with the professional Grades. The Union never specifically mentioned the PATs in any previous claims until they have been applied to the EI Professional Grades and then the claim is made for their application to the PATs.
4. Management has accepted through its Senior Management and its former Chief Executive that the PAT's staff on EI contracts are integrated into the Agency.
4.1 This claimin respect of the SRO Grade which had not been raised during the discussions at the LRC and hence did not form part of the agreement. Management contends that much work has been done to reach agreement on both issues and believes that it would be inappropriate to subsequently alter the fundamental terms of one of the agreements so as to allow the SRO Grade to benefit from both agreements, a benefit management submits to which they are not entitled.
2. The SSO Grade received access to the solution scale based on the 'link' which there was between the Level E solution and the SSO at May 1999 - no such basis exists for the SRO Grade.
3. The two claims referred to in the submissions - that of the SSO Grade and that of the SRO Grade ran in parallel. Both agreements were reached in good faith by the organisation. Management argue that it is disingenuous to then seek application of both agreements to the SRO Grade when they are not compatible with each other (ie in respect of the relativity issue).
The Court has considered the arguments made by the parties and the previous history surrounding this case.
Within the context of the Agency, for its part, arguing that there was no concrete agreement until 2005 and that even at that stage, this issue was not then raised and the Union pointing out that the logic of the situation was that this problem had always been there and should have been part of the solution finally accepted, the Court recommends as follows:
While not fully accepting the Union's reasons for not raising the matter earlier the Court's view is that an anomaly exists which should be corrected from the same date and in the same manner as in Labour Court Recommendation LCR No. 18096 - in regard to the SROs (and the ROs. who have or will become SROs) and who were serving on 1st May, 1999.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th October, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.