Brothers of Charity face €300k bill in pay row

THE Brothers of Charity in the mid-west could be facing a bill of over €300,000 for reportedly withholding incremental pay to staff.

The Labour Court has ruled in favour of the workers.

Assistant general secretary with the IMPACT trade union, Andy Pike, said yesterday the dispute involved between 100 to 200 workers in Limerick.

Average payouts of around €2,000 are due to each of the workers involved.

Mr Pike said unions had lodged a similar claim with the Brothers of Charity Service in Clare involving 80 workers there.

Mr Pike said: “With this Labour Court ruling, I would be very confident the outcome will be the same in Clare.”

The Brothers of Charity in Limerick yesterday declined to comment.

However, the services in Limerick and Clare could face a bill of over €300,000 in relation to the claims, with between 200 and 300 workers affected.

The Brothers of Charity provide a range of services to people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Welcoming the ruling, Mr Pike said the religious order now had no choice but to abide by the ruling.

The Labour Court has recommended the Brothers and unions engage on identifying equivalent savings to be found in other areas.

Mr Pike said this would not affect services to users with the savings to be identified in non-service areas.

According to the Labour Court report, “management’s position is that continuing funding cuts and other financial difficulties have made it unsustainable to apply wage increments since 2008”.

It reported: “The unions’ position is that the workers have already incurred significant pay cuts, as well as the introduction of the public service pension levy.

“The unions contend further cuts to the workers would be unsustainable and in breach of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, which prohibits further pay reductions for the lifetime of the agreement.”

The unions concerned, IMPACT, SIPTU and the INMO, argued that management’s position that its funding has been reduced does not justify a change to the contractual entitlements of workers by withholding their wage increments.

The Brothers of Charity told the court there “has already been a reduction in funding from the HSE and further cuts are expected.

“In these circumstances management have no option but to discontinue the payments of increments”.

The Labour Court said it accepts that the withholding of increments amounts to a de facto pay reduction.

“The court fully understands the financial difficulties in which the employer finds itself and the need to address those difficulties, however, it is incumbent on all parties to abide by the terms of the Public Service Agreement.

“Accordingly, the court recommends that the increments be restored with full retrospective effect,” the court ruled.

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