INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
SLIGO COUNTY COUNCIL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendations r-051253-Ir-07 SR, r-051254-Ir-07/SR, r-051256-Ir-07/SR.
2. This case concerns appeals by the employer of Rights Commissioner's Recommendations r-051253-Ir-07 SR, r-051254-Ir-07/SR, r-051256-Ir-07/SR.
The dispute concerns a claim by the Union for 95% of the Craft rate of pay for three workers employed by Sligo County Council on the basis that their skills and duties exceed those of the General Operative (G.O.) grade.
Management reject the claim on the basis that the workers are already in receipt of a differential above the G.O. rate to take into account the additional skills and duties undertaken. It further contends that the "Main Trade Make Good" Agreement of 1997 provides for the devolution of non-core craft work to the General Operative grade.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner who issued his Recommendation on 7th March 2008 as follows:
" There is broad agreement between the parties as to the duties carried out by the claimants. I am satisfied that much of the work carried out by the claimants has a craft dmension to it. The claimants bring a considerable degree of skill and experience to the job to the advantage of the employer. I note that in the Construction Industry this is recognised by paying such workers either 97% or 91% of the craft rate.
I accept that there is considerable merit inthe claim and I recommend that the employer ,without precedent,pay the three claimants 95% of the craft rate effective from 1st January 2006.
On 16th April 2008, the employer appealed the Rights Commissione'rs Recommendations in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on 27th November, 2008.
3. 1. The workers carry out duties beyond those expected of General Operatives and should be paid the appropriate percentage of the craft rate.
2. The ability of the workers to carry out skilled work saves management from the expense of employing additional qualified craftsmen.
4. 1. It is accepted that the workers carry out work at a high skill level, which is reflected in the additional payment received. The workers are paid the "craftworker's mates rate" which attracts an allowance of €31 per week.
2 The rates of pay are agreed nationally for local authorities and the claim as presented is cost increasing and unsustainable.
3 Concession of the claim would be inappropriate and lead to subsequent repercussive claims.
The appeal before the Court is made on behalf of Sligo County Council concerning the Union's claim for payment of 95% of the craft rate to three named workers employed to assist plumbers. The Rights Commissioner recommended concession of the claim.
The Union submitted that some of the duties performed by the workers were craftworkers' duties and accordingly sought payment of the differential.
The County Council rejected the claim, stating that the pay rates applicable were determined through national agreements and there is no national rate of 95% of the craft rate. It stated that the workers are paid a local handyman rate of pay, i.e. the Craftworkers' mates' rate plus they receive an allowance of €31.00 per week in recognition of the range of duties carried out.
The Court has considered the submissions of both parties. The Court notes that under the "Main Trade Make Good" Agreement, entered into as part of the Analogue Agreement of 1997, general operatives and related grades are required to cooperate with the continued devolution of non-core craftwork.
The Court does not accept that the workers are entitled to a differential of 95% of the craft rate and moreover, this is a cost increasing claim under the terms of "Towards 2016" and is consequently debarred under the terms of that agreement.
The Court upholds the County Council's appeal and overturns the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd December, 2008.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.