INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Pension Plan
2. This case concerns a dispute between Musgraves/Supervalu-Centra and SIPTU in relation to the pension entitlements of five employees employed by the Company. A Company/Union Agreement was concluded in 2002 giving 55 temporary workers permanent positions within the Company.
The issue in dispute relates to the eligibility of five workers who have subsequently been made permanent to enter into the Defined Benifit Pension (DBPS) Scheme which operated at the time the Agreement was concluded. The Current Scheme in operation is a Defined Contribution Pension Scheme (DCPS). The Union's position is that the permanent positions were, in its opinion made on the basis of seniority, and the workers should have been made permanent at the time and included in the DBPS. The Company's position is that seniority was not the only criteria for permanency at the time and the workers are now permanent and are included in the current pension scheme.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subjet 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 13th October, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act,1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on 4th April, 2007, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3 1 The workers in question were not made permanent on a seniority basis. There were workers with less service who were made permanent and included in the DBPS. This is unacceptable as there was no explanation given by management as to why the workers were by passed at the time.
2 The workers are now permanent and contribute to the new Pension Scheme in operation. This is unfair as these workers had an expectation and an entitlement to be made permanent and included in the non contributory scheme that applied at the time of the Agreement in 2002.
3. The Union's claim to have the workers retrospectively included in the DBPS is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
4 1 The workers in question were not made permanent under the 2002 Agreement and have no entitlement to inclusion in the DBPS. The permanent appointments were made on the basis of suitability as well as seniority.
2 Two of the workers who have since been made permanent and included in the DCPS were not eliglble to join the previous pension scheme as they did not meet the qualifying criteria (under 25 years of age)
3 The workers would have known they were not permanent employees as they were not rotated into positions reserved for permanent employees.
The Court accepts that the relevant provision in the April 2002 agreement is clear in specifying that seniority would no longer apply. However, having considered the submissions made to it the Court accepts that there was a misunderstanding between the parties as to when that that provision would take effect.
In all the circumstances of the case, and having regard to the costs involved, the Court recommends that the Company should, on an ex-gratia basis, admit the three qualifying employees to the old scheme in in respect of the relevant period prior to its closure.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th April 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.