INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
MARKS & SPENCER (IRELAND) LIMITED
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Procedure for promotion.
2. The dispute concerns two workers employed by Marks & Spencers, Mary Street, Dublin 1. One of the workers is a graduate of UCD with a BA in Economics and the other a graduate of Trinity with a BA in Business Studies. The Union claims that the issues relate to Company policy with regard to the filling of promotional posts. The post concerned was that of Section Manager in this instance. The Union contends that the Company did not follow their own procedures in making an appointment as Section Manager and the two workers concerned lost out on promotional opportunities as a result of the Company's action. The Company's position is that they acted within the terms of their procedures and that the applicants were not considered on the grounds of lack of experience and failure to complete an "Accelerator" Management Course which is required by all Section Managers.
The Union claims that they were not informed of the need to do the Accelerator Course and this was not part of the criteria in the job advertisement in May, 2005. The Company maintains the Course is advertised throughout Marks & Spencer and all employees are aware of it as part of the criteria for promotion. They do admit that it was not on the original advertisement in May 2005 but amended thereafter to be included in future advertisements.
The Union is seeking financial compensation for the workers in respect of their perceived loss.
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 6th October, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 24 January, 2007.
3.1 The Union contends that if the Company had followed its original procedures on internal promotions, by giving all applications the same selection process for internal promotions, then this issue would not have arisen. By the Company not following its own procedures it resulted in financial loss for the workers
2. The Union argues that in the advertisements for promotion in June, 2006, October, 2006, and November, 2006 the Company stipulated that in order to apply for those positions staff must have successfully completed the Accelerator Programme. This stipulation was never part of the requirements when the workers applied for the promotion in 2005.
3. This effectively debarred both workers from applying for promotion. One worker has only just completed the course. While the other worker has completed part of the course.
4. Both workers believe that the actions/inactions of the Company denied them opportunities for promotion. The Company did not take cognisance of their experience, education, knowledge of the methods of operations and their loyal commitment to the Company from the commencement of their employment through to the present day where they still carry out a coaching role for all new and existing staff as well as being instrumental facilitators within the Company's community initiative programme.
4.1 The Company has extended every opportunity for the two workers to attend the Accelerator Programme to ensure their ongoing development and potential and to afford them the opportunity for a career in management with the Company.
2. Both workers have stated that they do not see the merit of this Programme, particularly in the light of external courses they have already attended. The Programme consists of formal training in the areas of managing people, managing sale and costs, assertiveness, working with others, the role of Section Manager through business competencies and time management. Both workers believe that they should be exempt from the process that all other advisors within the Company must go through in order to move into a management line.
3. All vacancies are advertised internally in the first instance to ensure that promotional opportunities are afforded to existing staff in all categories. It is the normal practice that applicants with experience in specialised areas /roles will be allocated positions over employees with no experience in that area.
4. All Section Manager vacancies that have been advertised clearly state that in the first instance applications are invited from Section Managers and those who have successfully completed the Accelerator Programme.
The Court has considered the extensive amount of material submitted by the parties in this case.
It is clear to the Court that, at the inception of this dispute in 2005, there was some confusion as to the exact requirements for appointment to promotional positions. The Court also accepts that this situation was subsequently clarified to some extent.
The Court now recommends that:-
(a) An agreed and clarified format be adopted for promotion advertisements and circulated to all staff; and
(b) Both claimants should be considered for promotion on exactly the same basis as other eligible applicants (assuming that both Claimants have completed the 'Accelerator' Course).
The Court does not recommend that any compensation should be paid in respect of the Claimants' previous failures to qualify for promotion. The Court's view is that it is for the Company to decide whether or not to implement the gesture of goodwill previously discussed locally.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
2nd February, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.