INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
IRELAND WEST AIRPORT KNOCK
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Foley
Employer Member: Ms Cryan
Worker Member: Ms Tanham
1. 1. New Entry Pay Rates 2. Banded / Zero Hours.
2. The case before the Court concerns a dispute between the Employer and the Union in relation to pay rates for new entrants and a banded hours structure. It is the Union's claim that the minimum wage entry rate in operation in the Company is not an agreed rate as per an existing Company/Union agreement. The Employer rejects the Union's position arguing that it is an established practice for new entrants to commence on the minimum wage pay rate before moving to an agreed pay scale after one year of employment. In terms of banded hours, the Union on behalf of its members is seeking the implementation of a banded hours structure which will in turn provide workers with contracts of employment to reflect their specific hours of work and patterns of work established over a number of years. The Union put forward a proposal to the Employer on this issue. The Employer reverted to the Union with a counter proposal however this was rejected and agreement could not be reached. 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 30th September, 2015, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 25th February, 2016.
3. 1. The Employer is in breach of a Collective Agreement on the issue of new entrant pay rates.
2. The Union contends that new entrants should be placed on the appropriate agreed pay scales and not automatically on the minimum wage rate.
3. The Union on behalf of its members is seeking the introduction of contracts that outline their actual hours of work.
4. 1. The Employer maintains that it has operated new entrant rates prior to the establishment of the Collective Agreement.
2. The Employer asserts that it has a well established practice to assimilate employees onto agreed pay scales after one year of continuous employment.
3. The Employer contends that the Workers hold "if and when" contracts and are not obliged to accept all hours of work offered to them. The Employer is prepared to offer "banded hours" to employees.
The Court has considered in detail the written and oral submissions of the parties. The matter before the Court relates to (a) contractual treatment of employees’ hours of work and (b) application of the 2004 agreement to pay rates of certain new employees.
Contractual treatment of employees’ Hours of Work.
The Court understands that the contracts of certain employees of the Airport do not contain a statement as regards the minimum number of hours which an employee will work. Similarly the Court understands that certain employees’ contractual arrangements do not require them to be available for work on every occasion on which work is offered to them.
The Court has been advised by both parties that they are agreeable to the implementation of a ‘banded hours’ arrangement to apply to certain employees of the airport. Such an arrangement would formalise the liability of the employer as regards the allocation of working hours and the employee as regards the take up of working hours when offered. The parties’ agreement to introduce such an arrangement appears to be cognisant of the seasonal nature of business at the airport insofar as the Trade Union side set out to the Court that the ‘banded hours’ contract offered to an employee should reflect their normal pattern of working in the Winter period.
The Court recommends that the parties should engage to finalise the technical aspects of a ‘banded hours’ arrangement to apply to the personnel involved in this claim. The parties should jointly examine the detail of actual hours worked, particularly during the winter period, to ensure that a ‘banded hours’ contract offered to an employee reflects their established pattern of working at the airport. The parties should, if considered necessary, request the assistance of the Workplace Relations Commission to complete their engagement.
Application of the 2004 agreement.
The parties concluded an agreement in 2004 incorporating an agreement on an incremental pay scale. That agreement was concluded against a background where a practice of recruiting short term staff during peak periods was a feature of the operation of the airport. Employees recruited for such periods were recruited before and after the 2004 agreement at rates not set out in that agreement.
The Court recommends that the parties should engage to broaden their agreement of 2004 so as to include the rates of pay to be applied to persons recruited to work during the peak period each year. That new element of the agreement should apply from a current date and should comply with all relevant legislation. The Court also recommends that the company’s proposal that progression through incremental scales be based on accumulated service should be accepted.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th March 2016______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Sharon Cahill, Court Secretary.