INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
GLASNEVIN CEMETERIES GROUP
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay parity with employees in Deansgrange.
2. The Union's claim is on behalf of a number of Foremen and Cemetery Operatives for pay parity with cemetery staff in Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown County Council. The Glasnevin Cemetery Group of Companies (the Group) operates five cemeteries and two crematoria.
The Union claims that in 2000 the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Group agreed to extend pay parity for the workers concerned with Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown staff. The Company's case is that while it agreed in principle to the pay parity it was conditional on its financial ability to fund any increase. Following a number of meetings between the parties, the Company made detailed productivity proposals to the Union in March, 2006. The Company claims that the Union was agreeable to the proposals provided the pay parity sought was guaranteed by January, 2007, something the Company could not agree to. Following a number of conciliation conferences at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) the Company made final proposals on the 2nd of August, 2006, which would give the workers pay in excess of Towards 2016 plus an improved pension scheme. The proposals were rejected by ballot.
As the parties could not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 22nd of November, 2006, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 22nd of February, 2007.
3. 1. In 2000, following many years of complaints about low wages of the Company's staff, the CEO agreed to extend pay parity with staff in Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown County Council. The Union is aware that the CEO conceded a similar commitment to other staff categories in the Group. However, by 2003 the workers concerned were still being paid below their comparators.
2. In 2003 the Union was told that there could be losses of up to €1million for that year, yet the records show a surplus of €411,097.
3. This has been a long and frustrating process for the Union. Currently there is a differential between the workers concerned and their comparators of €198 per week for Foremen and €49.81 for General Operatives.
4. 1. The cemeteries within the Group are currently running at a substantial loss (details supplied to the Court). This situation has been caused mainly by increased competition in the market. The Group has also had to deal with substantial increases in overheads.
2. The commitment to achieving parity was given in good faith but circumstances are now such that it cannot be funded. The Union has never disputed that the Group cannot afford the claim.
3. The Foreman category - the central Group to the claim - cannot be compared to "Foreman Craftsmen / Foreman Gardener" in Dun Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council. The Foremen in the Company are not craftsmen.
The Union submitted a claim before the Court on behalf of Foremen and Cemetery Operatives for pay parity with DunLaoghaire-Rathdown County Council Cemetery workers.
The origins of the claim date back to a commitment given by Management in 2000 to improve the rates of pay of the workers concerned and bring them in line with the rates paid in DunLaoghaire-Rathdown County Council Cemetery.
While Management acknowledges that a commitment was given it stated that this was subject to its ability to fund such increases. However, it pointed out that since that time its financial position has prevented its ability to pay the increases. It also raised a question over the appropriateness of the comparators chosen.
In an effort to resolve the dispute, Management put forward a set of proposals on 2nd August, 2006, to substantially increase rates of pay in excess of Towards 2016 and to improve the pension scheme, in return for certain conditions including agreement on work practice changes. Following a ballot of members the Company’s proposals were rejected.
Having considered the submissions of both parties, the Court recommends that the Union should revisit the Company’s proposals and the parties should enter into meaningful negotiations with a view to:
-addressing the residual issues concerning the“productivity measures/work practice changes to assist in funding these proposals”-further improving the rates of pay in the context of meeting the commitment given in 2000 within a five-year timescale.
Furthermore, the Court recommends that, if the Union considered it necessary, Management should provide, on a confidential basis, the relevant financial details to a nominee of the Union for inspection.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th March, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.