INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ST CATHERINE'S COLLEGE
(REPRESENTED BY DEPT OF EDUCATION & SCIENCE)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
2. In September 2003 the Minister for Education and Science announced that the College would be gradually closed. Redundancy, redeployment and early retirement were offered to members of staff. Conciliation Conferences under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission were held on 13th and 29th June, 2007 to discuss a redundancy package. The parties agreed to a proposed payment of five weeks per year of service including statutory redundancy, with a two year cap on the total. Following the agreement the Unions became aware of a previous Labour Court Recommendation which outlined a payment of seven weeks including statutory redundancy within the education sector. The Unions position is that they only agreed to the LRC proposal on the basis that they had no concrete evidence of a better deal at the time of Conciliation. The Department of Education contend that the reasonably compromised agreement at conciliation was put to the Department of Finance on the clear understanding that acceptance was being recommended by both parties. The Unions sought to reconvene the Conciliation Conference.
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 1st August, 2007 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court Hearing took place on the 29th August, 2007.
3. 1 The Unions objective has always been to get the best possible redundancy terms for its members based on precedent in the education sector. During the LRC talks this was indicated at all times.
2 The Department of Education and Science were very likely to have been aware of the previous better deal during the LRC negotiations, as it was on record as a Labour Court Recommendation. This previous settlement was 7 weeks per year of service, inclusive of two weeks statutory.
3 The Unions believe the Department should improve its redundancy offer to its members to match that of the previous settlement. The negotiations in the LRC were heavily influenced by precedent in the Education Sector. Had the Unions known of this previous settlement then their position would have been very different.
4. 1 In the course of negotiations previous cases of redundancy in the education sector were referred to by both parties. Therefore, both parties accepted that various precedents existed whether relevant to this case or not. While accepting that these previous cases existed, the Department sought to negotiate a settlement in this case that would be acceptable to both sides by way of compromise.
2 The previous settlement to which the Unions refer to as a precedent arose out of Labour Court Recommendation 17780 dating back over three years ago and was based on the claim of one individual. It is clear from the Recommendation that there were special individual considerations in this case.
3 The Unions are now seeking in excess of the redundancy deal proposed in the August Conciliation Conference, which they agreed to and they are seeking in excess of what they originally sought at the LRC in June.
The Court notes that agreement was reached at the LRC on a redundancy settlement which was to have been put to those affected with a recommendation for acceptance. In reliance on the Labour Court Recommendation 17780 the Unions now claim that the terms agreed in the LRC are unsatisfactory.
The Court does not accept that LCR17880 is on all fours with the current case. Nonetheless in view of the attitude which has been taken by the Unions it is unlikely that the proposals which emerged from the LRC would now be accepted in a ballot.
Accordingly the Court is of the view that it would be an exercise in futility to recommend that the proposal be put to ballot at this stage. Rather the Court recommends that the Department modify its proposal to one of six weeks pay per year of service inclusive of statutory entitlements. This should be subject to a cap of two years pay.
The Court notes the Departments willingness to discuss a voluntary retirement option.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th August, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to David P Noonan, Court Secretary.