NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND,MUSEUM OF COUNTRY LIFE
1.Appeal of Adjudication Officer Recommendation No.ADJ-00013563, CA-00018055-001
“I do not uphold the worker’s specific dispute with regards to incremental credit.
I do recommend that the employer should pay compensation to the worker of €350 for their failure to engage with the worker in a timely and appropriate manner and due to the unique circumstances of this worker’s dispute”
A Labour Court hearing took place on 10 November 2021.
It is clear to the Court that the matter before the Court rests in part on the parties’ differing interpretation of thePublic Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004and in part on their differing views as regards the operation of Public Service circular 16/2005 which is titledAgreement on incremental credit for previous service for entry levels at Service Officer or Service Attendant, or equivalent grades represented by the Federated Union of Government Employees.
The Act of 2004, by definition, has a wide application while the circular is characterised in its title as an agreement between a trade union and public service employers generally in respect of the terms and conditions of employment of identified grades of worker. The trade union responsible for the negotiation and conclusion of this agreement was not a party to the trade dispute before the Court and consequently the Court was deprived of any perspective of the trade union as regards the original agreement or as regards its intended operation or application.
The Court notes that the representative of the worker asserted that he believed the worker to be unique in this employment and generally across the entire public service in terms of the circumstances of his previous service for which he seeks incremental credit.
As both parties are aware, the Court has in 2020 issued two decisions (LCR22370 and LCR22371) in respect of two separate appeals involving two workers and this employer under section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. Those decisions related to claims by two employees of the employer for incremental credit in respect of previous service. While the detail of the previous service at issue in those cases differs from the detail of the previous service at issue in the case of the Claimant now before the Court, certain features of the legislation under which those appeals came before the Court were addressed by the Court in each of those decisions as follows:
The issue in dispute concerns the application to the Claimant of Circular 16/2005 “Agreement on incremental credit for previous service for entry levels at Service Officer or Service Attendant, or equivalent grades represented by the Federated Union of Government Employees”. The Court was made aware that there were other Claimants employed by the National Museum of Ireland who are also seeking application of Circular 16/2005 in similar circumstances.
The Court is satisfied that the issue in dispute would require an interpretation of the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004. Therefore, it is clear that the effect of such an interpretation is not confined to one individual. Potentially at least, it impacts on others whose circumstances are similar. In these circumstances the Court is satisfied that any decision that it would make in this case would, actually or potentially, affect the pay of a group of workers.
Section 13(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 precludes an Adjudication Officer from investigating a trade dispute that is connected with the rates of pay of body of workers. For the reasons referred to above the Court is satisfied that the subject matter of this dispute comes within that prohibition.
It follows that this dispute should not have been referred to an Adjudication Officer and the Recommendation was made outside of her statutory jurisdiction. Since the dispute was not properly before the Adjudication Officer it is not properly before the Court. Accordingly, the Court must decline to deal with this appeal.
It is clear that any interpretation this Court might purport to give of an Act of the Oireachtas has the potential to affect all of the workers whose terms of employment are governed in relevant part by that Act. Similarly, any interpretation this Court might purport to give of a public service circular has the potential to affect all of the workers whose terms of employment are governed in relevant part by that circular.
In those circumstances, the Court cannot but conclude, for the reasons given on two separate occasions in this employment as outlined above, that the within dispute was not properly before the Adjudication Officer and is therefore not properly before the Court
The Court so decides.