SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms O'Donnell
Employer Member: Ms Doyle
Worker Member: Ms Tanham
1. Change in Rostering Arrangements.
2. The case before the Court concerns a dispute between the Employer and the Union on behalf of its members employed at Rosslare Europort in relation to changes in rostering arrangements. The dispute relates specifically to the Union's claim that due to changes in rostering arrangements its members are now required to work on a pattern that would normally attract payment of an allowance for night work. The Union maintains that while its members are currently operating the new hours they are not being properly remunerated for doing so. The Employer rejects the Union's claim arguing that there is no additional payment owing to these Workers in return for changes to rosters.
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 25th May , 2017, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st July, 2017.
3. 1. The Union contends that its members are now required to commence at an earlier start time and any additional hours beyond the agreed start time must attract an allowance.
2. The Union maintains that its members object strongly to these changes in rostering arrangements and have carried them out on a voluntary basis to date.
3. The Union on behalf of its members is seeking an allowance in recognition of the changes made to the Workers' rosters.
4. 1. The Employer maintains that the changes in these rosters forms part of the Agreement currently in place in Rosslare Europort.
2. The Employer asserts that there is no allowance associated with these roster changes.
3. The Employer further asserts that all bonuses and allowances form part of a composite rate of pay agreed with the Union in 2001.
The issue in dispute relates to a change in rostering arrangements at the Europort Ferry at Rosslare Harbour Co. Waterford. Iarnrod Eireann staff handle the ferries when they enter and leave the port. Shipping arrangements changed on the 22ndMay 2017 requiring a change in rosters from a 6am start to a 3.30am start time. This did not impact on the duration of the shift. The proposed change would see staff working the early start for 3 days over an 18 day period. The union is seeking a monetary payment for agreeing to the change. 56 operative staff are affected by the change to the starting time. The new rosters are currently being implemented on a voluntary basis.
The Court considered the detailed submissions of both parties and the oral arguments made on the day. Both parties referenced the 2001 agreement “A New Framework for Staff Deployment and Work Arrangements” Rosslare Europort Staff July 2001. This agreement entered into by both parties allows for very flexible arrangements to meet the needs of the shipping companies. The agreement makes reference to “providing for all contingencies in the provision of services to our customers. It also references agreement to “create manpower flexibility and to adopt different working arrangements as required, so as to match our resources to shipping operations.
In relation to rosters it states “staff will normally be required to cover periods for;
1. Port Activity for scheduled services between 06.15 and 23.30
2. Routine Terminal Activity between 06.15 and 23.30
3. Exceptional cases, such as when ships experience weather or other delays
4. Particular situations where one of the Shipping companies has a special requirement ….”
Both parties accept that that in relation to that agreement there is a composite earnings package in place.
The company’s position is that the early start is a roster change which is covered by the 2001 agreement. They indicated that they had given the required notice to the Union and this was not disputed by the Union. They also expressed the view that the 2001 composite rate of pay included all bonuses, allowances and shift payments. The company was not receiving any additional monies for facilitating the early arrival of the ship and therefore could not make a payment to the staff. Finally they indicated that concession of the claim could create a precedent within the wider company.
The Unions position is that the 2001 agreement only covers flexibility between the hours set out in the agreement and that a scheduled 3.30 hrs start was not envisaged when the agreement was reached. They contend that it is a change to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment and some payment would be required before they could consider changing their start time. In response to managements concerns re setting a precedent they stated that the group which are the subject of this claim are the only group that have a specified start and finish time in their agreement. This was accepted by management.
It is clear that the intention of the 2001 agreement was to provide the flexibility required to meet the changing needs of the shipping companies. It was not envisaged at that stage that a start before 6.15 would be required. There is no dispute amongst the parties that the requirement still exists to match the rosters to the requirements of the shipping companies which at this point requires a 3.30am start as set out in management’s proposals.
In order to give effect to this the Court recommends that a payment of €1,000 euro be paid to each member of staff covered by this claim in full and final settlement on a once off red circled basis reflecting the fact that the agreement contained a specified start time.
If any change regarding rosters times were to occur in the future the Court believes they would be covered within the flexibility clauses contained in the 2001 Agreement.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th July 2017______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Sharon Cahill, Court Secretary.