INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Ms Cryan
Worker Member: Mr Shanahan
1. Early Retirement & Bridging Supplement.
2. This dispute concerns the terms of early retirement agreement reached in 2010, and in particular, the payment of a bridging pension supplement. This 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 4th March 2015, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st April, 2015.
3. 1. The Union were clear in their view that, apart from the concession made during the negotiations which did not include any reference to the bridging supplement, the agreement would mirror the previous early retirement schemes in 1996 and 2002.
2. The working example of a workers expected pension in the 2010 Agreement includes the bridging supplement between date of departure and date of receipt of pension.
3. The value of the bridging supplement is very significant for the workers particularly those on low earnings.
4. 1. There is no evidence to support Unite's position that a bridging supplement was inferred to be an element of the Early Retirement Scheme. Nothing within the Bank of Scotland (Ireland) Defined Benefits Pension Scheme Rules and Trust Deed, within the formal Legal Framework Agreement (LFA) document, within communications issued, or in the application of Early Retirement since 2010, supports Unite's claim.
2. Each colleague who has left under Early Retirement has on departure signed a Form of Acceptance which states that they 'irrevocably and unconditionally agree to and accept the terms of the Settlement Letter and agree that same are in full and final settlement of all claims of whatsoever
3. The example cited in the 2010 agreement was solely designed to illustrate that a workers benefit on taking early retirement cannot exceed the benefit of their salary up to normal retirement age.
This dispute concerns the interpretation of an agreement entered into between the parties in December 2010. Specifically, the Court is asked to recommend on whether the agreement could reasonably be understood as providing that a prior arrangement whereby those availing of early retirement would receive a supplemental pension equal to the value of the State pension up to age 66 would continue.
That question is not addressed either way in the text of the agreement. However, the Court has concluded that the illustrative table set out at Clause 3 of the agreement is capable of being understood as preserving the prior arrangement. It is accepted that this table was drafted by management and, in the Court’s opinion, the drafters of the table had a responsibility to avoid any ambiguity in what was on offer.
Having regard to the absence of any qualification setting out the position now contended from by the company, the Court is satisfied that the Unions interpretation of the agreement is cogent and should be accepted.
However, the Court notes that those who have already left the company’s employed did so voluntarily and on the terms then on offer, which did not include a supplemental pension. The Court does not recommend any change in the case of that group of claimants.
The Court recommends that those who are granted early retirement after the date of this recommendation should be afforded the supplemental pension on the terms claimed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th May 2015Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Clodagh O'Reilly, Court Secretary.