SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
EDENDERRY POWER LTD (EPL)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Foley
Employer Member: Ms Doyle
Worker Member: Mr Shanahan
1. 1) 3.5% Pay Claim 2) Collective Bargaining in relation to Pay.
2. The case before the Court concerns a dispute between the Union and the Employer in relation to the Union's claim for a pay increase and access to collective pay discussions.. It is the Union's position that a collective agreement concluded with the Company in 2013 established the method by which individual and collective grievances and disciplinary matters are dealt with within the Company. The Union is of the view that pay issues are encompassed within this agreement. The Employer rejects the Union's position and agreement could not be reached.The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a number of Conciliation Conferences under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 19th September, 2016 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 23rd November, 2016.
3. 1. The Union is seeking a 3.5% pay increase with retrospective application from 2014 on the basis that its members have suffered a pay freeze since 2008.
2. The Union maintains that the 2013 collective agreement encompasses pay and issues related to pay.
3. The Union contends that the Employer is in a financial position to concede its pay claim.
4. 1. The Employer asserts that it has not moved from its historic method of determining pay progression for its employees on an individual basis.
2. The Employer refutes the Union's assertion that the 2013 agreement encompasses collective bargaining on pay.
3. The Employer maintains that it sees no valid reason to alter its current pay determination structure.
The Court has given detailed consideration to the written and oral submissions of the parties.
The Court is asked to consider the arrangements to apply in terms of engagement as regards pay in the Company. The Court is also asked to deal with a pay claim upon the Company which was lodged in 2014 as part of a Group –wide set of claims in the Bord na Mona Group of companies.
The parties acknowledge that the Company operated a mechanism to determine pay progression since 2000 which centred on an individual annual review based on pre-determined criteria. It is common case that this mechanism applied until the institution of a ‘pay freeze’ by the Company in 2009 which obtained until a decision by the Board of the Group in 2015 to bring it to an end.
In the meantime the parties concluded a collective agreement in 2013 which purported to establish by agreement the mechanisms under which the parties’ relationship would operate. The Trade Union is emphatic that the 2013 agreement brought to an end the pre-existing mechanism for pay determination in the Company. The Company is equally adamant that the 2013 agreement did not interfere with or alter the pre-existing mechanism for pay determination.
The Court has established that the employees concerned in this claim have benefitted similarly to other Bord na Mona Group employees in 2016 in terms of pay. Specifically a ‘gesture’ in the amount of €1,250 was paid to the employees involved in this claim and that appears to be consistent with the experience of others who were party to the Group-wide set of pay claims made in 2014.
The Company has made an offer to re-institute the mechanism of pay determination by individual annual review with effect from 2017. There is no certainty on the part of either party that any collectively bargained unit within the group has the prospect in 2017 of securing a more advantageous position in 2017.
The Court notes that, notwithstanding differential pay determination mechanisms, the employees involved in this claim have not been disadvantaged to date relative to other employees of Group enterprises who were party to the 2014 Group-wide claim. The Court notes also that, on implementation of the Company’s proposed pay determination model for 2017, that situation is, based on the oral submissions of the parties, likely to obtain throughout 2017.
The Court therefore recommends that the parties acknowledge that their 2013 agreement has not, clearly and in a manner supported by both parties, succeeded in disposing by agreement of the issue of pay determination. In light of that acknowledgement the Court recommends that the parties engage de-novo to attempt to agree mechanisms for pay determination to apply into the future. The parties should agree to utilise normal procedures as necessary in order to achieve resolution of this matter during 2017. In the meantime the mechanism proposed by the Company for pay determination in 2017 should be accepted for that year.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th December 2016______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Sharon Cahill, Court Secretary.