Transport Salaried Staffs' Association and Others v Córas Iompair Éireann

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date01 January 1966
Date01 January 1966
Transport Salaried Staffs' Association and Others v. C Óras Iompair Éireann.
THE TRANSPORT SALARIED STAFFS' ASSOCIATIONand JAMES PAUL GREEN, JAMES TYRRELL and EAMONN WHELAN
Plaintiffs
and
C ÓRAS córas IOMPAIR ÉIREANN éireann
Defendants.

Supreme Court.

Master and servant - Conditions of service - Conditions required by Statute to be regulated by agreement - Agreement entered into - Rates of pay to be decided by years of service - Proposal to recruit university graduates as employees - Proposal to pay such employees higher rates of pay than existing employees - Whether such proposals a breach of the agreement - Railways Act, 1924 (No.29 of 1924), s. 55 - Railways Act, 1933 (No. 9 of 1933), s. 10 - Transport Act, 1950 (No. 12 of 1950), s. 46.

Sect. 55 of the Railways Act, 1924, provides, inter alia, as follows:—

"(1) From and after the passing of this Act the rates of pay, hours of duty and other conditions of service of railway employees shall be regulated in accordance with agreements made or to be from time to time made between the trade unions representative of such employees of the one part and the railway companies and other persons by whom they are respectively employed of the other part."

Sect. 10 of the Railways Act, 1933, provides that "From and after the passing of this Act the rates of pay, hours of duty, and other conditions of service of the road transport employees of a railway company, employed for any of the purposes of the road transport business carried on by such Company and whose depot or other place of employment is situated in Saorstát Eireann, shall be regulated in accordance with agreements made or to be from time to time made between the trade unions representative of such employees of the one part and such railway company of the other part."

Sect. 46 of the Transport Act, 1950, provides that references to a railway company in the above sections are to be construed as references to Córas Iompair Éireann éireann.

On the 1st August, 1947, there was a written agreement made between the plaintiffs and the defendants and it was thereby agreed that the rates of pay of the clerical officers' grade should be as set out in the schedule to that agreement. The relevant scale applicable to any particular employee in that grade was determined by the number of years of service of the employee concerned in the various grades. The defendants proposed a form of special recruitment into the clerical officers' grade at salaries in excess of those fixed in the 1947 agreement. The plaintiffs contended that such a proposal was a breach of s. 65 of the Railways Act, 1924, as it was contrary to the agreement made between the plaintiffs and the defendants in, 1947.

Held by the Supreme Court ( Ó Dálaigh ó dálaigh C.J., Lavery, Kingsmill Moore, Haugh and Walsh JJ.), affirming Kenny J., that the defendants had committed a breach of the agreement of the 1st August, 1947, and accordingly also of a breach of the provisions of s. 55 of the Railways Act, 1924.

The Court accordingly granted an injunction to restrain the defendants, their servants and agents, from appointing any male clerical officers to their staff or paying any male clerical officers on their staff otherwise than at rates of pay in accordance with the agreements made or to be from time to time made between the plaintiff Trade Union of the one part and the defendants of the other part.

Witness Action.

Sect. 55 of the Railways Act, 1924, provides inter alia that the rates of pay, hours of duty, and other conditions of service of railway employees are to be regulated in accordance with agreements entered into between the appropriate trade unions and the railway companies. Sect. 10 of the Railways Act, 1933, applies such agreements to road transport employees employed by a railway company, and s. 46 of the Transport Act, 1950, provides that the defendants for these purposes are to be regarded as a railway company. Accordingly, in 1947, an agreement regulating these matters was entered into between the plaintiff Union and the defendants. Scales of pay related to years of service were set forth in the schedule to that agreement. Subsequently the defendants proposed to initiate a special form of recruitment to their service in the clerical officers' grade which was one of the grades covered by the said agreement. The method of recruitment proposed by the defendants was that they would recruit university graduates at salaries in excess of those fixed by the 1947 agreement.

The plaintiffs, the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association and James Paul Green, James Tyrrell and Eamonn Whelan, three of its members representing themselves and the other members of the clerical officers' grade of Córas Iompair Eireann, contended that such a scheme of recruitment was a breach of the 1947 agreement and, consequently, of the provisions of s. 55 of the Railways Act, 1924, and that the defendants could not pursue the scheme. They accordingly brought proceedings in the High Court, claiming 1, a declaration that in fixing the said rates of pay for male clerical officers the defendants had contravened the provisions of s. 55 of the Railways Act, 1924, and s. 10 of the Railways Act, 1933, as applied by s. 46 of the Transport Act, 1950;

2, A declaration that in fixing the said rates of pay for male clerical officers the defendants had contravened the provisions of the scheme;

3, A declaration that the defendants were prohibited under and by virtue of the said statutory sections and under and by virtue of the said agreement and scheme from paying or continuing to pay to male clerical officers any rates of pay other than those set out in [the schedule to the said agreement] save in accordance with an agreement or agreements made or to be from time to time made between the trade unions representative of such employees and the defendants and that any such payments are and were contrary to law;

4, An injunction restraining the defendants their servants and agents from regulating or attempting to regulate the rates of pay and other conditions of service of their railway employees and their road transport employees employed or to be employed in the grade of male clerks otherwise than in accordance with agreements made or to be from time to time made between the trade unions representative of such employees of the one part and the defendants of the other part.

5, An injunction restraining the defendants their servants and agents from making any alterations in the rates of pay of male clerical officers before the expiration of 28 days after the matter of such alteration or proposed alteration had been referred to the Córas Iompair Éireann's éireann's Joint Industrial Council.

6, An injunction restraining the defendants, their servants and agents from appointing any male clerical officers to their staff or paying any male clerical officers on their staff otherwise than at rates of pay in accordance with the agreements made or to be from time to time made between the trade unions representative of such employees of the one part and the defendants of the other part.

From the above judgment the defendants appealed to the Supreme Court (1) on the grounds:—1, that the defendants did not commit any breach of the agreement dated the 1st August, 1947, or of any variation thereof;

2, That the said agreement as varied did not preclude the defendants from making individual contracts with persons entering their employment as clerical officers;

3, That the defendants did not commit any breach of statutory duty;

4, That the statutory obligations, if any, resting on the defendants in relation to rates of pay of clerical officers do not preclude the making of individual contracts between the defendants and persons entering their employment as clerical officers;

5, That none of the plaintiffs are entitled to an order requiring the defendants to break existing contracts of employment with clerical officers:

6, That the plaintiffs are not entitled to relief affecting the rights of persons not parties to the action:

7, That the plaintiff Association had no interest in any of the relief claimed in the action or granted by the High Court order:

8, That the plaintiff Association suffered no loss and was not affected by way of the matters complained of in the statement of claim or found by the learned trial Judge;

9, That none of the individual plaintiffs had any interest in any of the relief claimed or granted;

10, That none of the individual plaintiffs was affected by any of the matters complained of in the statement of claim or found by the learned trial Judge;

11, That the matters complained of gave no cause of action to any of the plaintiffs;

And on the ground that the learned trial Judge was wrong in holding:—

(a) That the defendants were under a statutory duty to pay only the rates of pay specified in the agreement in force at the time;

(b) That the defendants were under a statutory duty not to pay more than the rates specified in the agreement in force at the time;

(c) That persons in their first year of service as clerical officers could not be paid salary on scale appropriate to persons in the fifth or ninth year;

(d) That the individual plaintiffs had any cause of action;

(e) That any of the plaintiffs had an interest entitling them or him to enforce the alleged statutory duty, and that the learned trial Judge was wrong (i) in finding that employees as clerical officers who in their first year received salary appropriate to the fifth or ninth year were more likely to get promotion than other employees;

(ii) In finding that individual plaintiffs would probably be damnified by the system of recruitment of clerical officers mentioned in the statement of claim;

(iii) In finding that the proposal to pay salaries to those in the first year appropriate to fifth or ninth years' service was a proposal to vary an existing agreement which should have been...

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