INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
STUDENTS UNION -NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND GALWAY
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Application of Benchmarking.
2. The Students Union of the National University of Ireland in Galway (NUIG) as an employer is not publicly funded out of the public purse and is a stand alone private operation.
The claim before the Court involves five members of the SIPTU Union who work for the Student Union in NUIG. They are seeking the application of the payment of Benchmarking Awards (BM). For pay purposes the claimants were aligned to clerical/administrative staff working within the University. The historical nature of this pay relationship provided for a practice where the same conditions of pay and incremental progression applied to Student Union employees as to the College's clerical administrative staff. This pay parity has not been maintained. The Student Union Management claim that they are not in a position to pay Benchmarking to any member of staff due to their financial position.
The dispute 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 the 14th June, 2006, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 6th September, 2006.
3. 1.In 2002/3 the Union maintain that the Employer gave a commitment to honour the future pay components of the then forthcoming Benchmarking agreement.
2. It is the Union's contention that in 2004 the Employer made a unilateral decision to break a long established contractual commitment without notifying its employees or the Trade Union. The Union or its members have never received written confirmation of the Employers decision to negatively affect the contractual provision to maintain pay parity with college grades.
3.The Union maintain that when compared to the current equivalent actual college rates the five claimants have incurred significant pay slippage and therefore should be paid the due Benchmarking payments from the appropriate dates.
4. 1.The Students Union is in a perilous financial state and is not in a position to pay any Benchmarking to any member of staff.
2. The Employer is pleading inability to pay the terms of the National Pay Agreements in respect of any special Benchmarking awards that may have arisen or could be argued by the SIPTU Union.
The dispute before the Court relates to the Union’s contention that the employer has refused to maintain a long established pay relationship with agreed comparable grades employed at NUIG. The Union submits that this action has resulted in the non-application of (a) Benchmarking awards; (b) increments and (c) the final phase of Sustaining Progress – 2.5%.
The Students Union Management outlined the serious financial position of the organisation and stated that it could not afford to pay over and above the national pay awards.
The Court notes that Management indicated at the Court hearing their commitment to pay the outstanding increase due under Sustaining Progress. However, the Unions’ claims for payment of Benchmarking awards and increments due still remain.
The Court has examined the supplemental information forwarded to the Court post the hearing on the Students Union financial position. The Court notes that there is a contractual obligation in some cases to pay remuneration on a scale equivalent to NUIG comparable scales, however, it is clear to the Court that the current financial situation of the Students Union impedes that commitment being met.
Consequently, the Court recommends that both sides should meet to discuss the situation in light of the financial difficulties facing the Students Union and the parties should enter into a suitable arrangement going forward that suits all parties. These discussions should be completed by the end of November 2006.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th September, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.