Unions halt €9million Bord Na Mona cuts drive.

SUCESSFUL challenges by unions to cost-cutting measures at Bord Na Mona look set to cost the 95%-owned energy supplier more than €9million.

Company car perks and back-dated pay rises for staff are to be reinstated despite moves by management to scrap them.

Worth up to €13,000-a-year, the car perks had been removed from nine members of staff who then took the matter to the Labour Court, where they won their right to a company car back.

The bid to cut the €2.1million-a-year perk for 165 staff members was part of a raft of cost-saving measures by the body, which is 95% State-owned.

Another measure was a pay-freeze, but this was also successfully over-turned at the Labour Court.

Last night, Bod Na Mona said it was ‘reviewing’ the court’s decision on cars, which established that they  were part of staff contracts’ terms and conditions.

Michael Parker, from Insight Communications, also said on behalf of the company that it was still considering the Labour Court’s decision about pay rises in May.

Union UNITE had argued that the energy supplier had picked the nine workers from an initial pool of 34 but did not give any reasons for its decision.

After the decision, spokesman Dermot Mahon said the company was expected to restore the car perk before beginning discussions on a new policy.

He added: ‘It may want to change its policy, but it is not reasonable to just whip them away.’

During a hearing last month into the case, Bord Na Mona had argued that it was ‘facing significant challenges at the moment and needs to put cost-saving measures in place.’

As a result of that decision last May about the pay rises, more than 1,000 staff are now due a 3.5 per cent rise, which dates back to 2009.

The total pay-out could total more than €7.4million if it is applied to this year’s pay packets as well as the previous two years.
Bord Na Mona had declared the previously-agreed pay rises for 2009 as ‘inappropriate and undesirable, given the economic climate’.

But the Court found there was ‘no justifiable reason’ why staff ‘should have been treated less favourably than those in comparable State Enterprises and none was advanced by the company.’

Both Labour Court decisions are a massive blow to the company, and follow on from a series of successful challenges against management-led cuts.

In 2010, for example, the company’s decision to slash bonus payments was the centre of yet another Labour Court challenge by a union.

SIPTU represented two Bord employees who sued over reductions to their usual 10% performance bonus payments, which had previous been determined by team performance and the achievement of personal targets agreed with line managers.
However, in 2007/2008, management decided to make ‘company performance ‘the main criterion upon which bonuses would be decided.

SIPTU argued in court that the changes – amounting to a 1.8% reduction – to bonus payments had not been agreed with workers, nor had they even been informed that the changes were in place.