Water Services Operator v A Public Body. ADJ 34492. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ 34492
Date05 December 2022

In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 (as amended) following the referral of the dispute to me by the Director General, I inquired into the dispute and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any information relevant to the dispute.


On August 10, 2021, the Union requested that a Trade Dispute be investigated on behalf of the Worker. The case centred on a claim for confirmation of Grade 5, Water Curator, following an acting up pattern of two decades.

The Respondent has rejected the claim.

Both Parties were represented at hearing. Both Parties made helpful written submissions at hearing.

An important context and background to this case is the omnipresent Service Level Agreement on the delivery of water services in the area of employment. This case centres on the circumstances surrounding a derivative National Agreement which evolved from the SLA.

Summary of Workers Case:

The Union outlined that the Worker applied for the position of a Grade 5 Water curator following a pattern of “acting up “over two decades. The post was subsequently downgraded to Grade 3, and the Worker was seeking confirmation in position with retrospection.

The Worker had commenced work in July 1999 and held the position of Water Services Operative, Grade 3. He worked at the higher grade 5 and received payment on an acting basis

The Union outlined that that the worker had attended for interview for Grade 5 relief on 11 August 2017 but did not receive an outcome from this process. He had chased this up in May 2018 but was unsuccessful in obtaining an outcome. The Worker understood that there no problems at interview and appointment was to follow.

He included a copy of an acknowledgement of his application for regularisation at grade 5

Other positions at grade 5 existed around the geographical area, but the position he had acted in was subsequently downgraded.

In response to the Employer submission, the Union submitted that the worker had never received the letter from the Recruitment Officer relied on. the Union did not accept that the Employer made a mistake, the worker was under the clear impression that he had succeeded at interview.

The Union contended that the worker had been disadvantaged by his exclusion from the Grade 5 position

The Union exhibited a document dated May 24, 2017, which set out 17 zones across a geographical spread, where regularisations by competition were planned.

Summary of Employer’s Case:

The Employer set out the employment background for the Worker from July 1999 to the present day. His substantive post is a Sanitary Caretaker, Grade 3.

The Public Body rejected the claim as advanced by the Union.

The Employer Representative outlined that a Service Level agreement was in existence with a named third party. This specifies the nature and extent of water services staffing on numbers and grade of staffing.

The Employer set out the locum arrangements which pertained to covering annual leave and other absences for a neighbouring g curator. This resulted in a per diem of €30. Payment of a per diem of €30 also prevailed when the Worker covered in “an acting capacity “in a higher post

In addressing the competition referred to in the Union submission, the Employer recalled the 2017 IR process at National Level on behalf of Local Authorities. 95% of the water services headcount was to be filled on a...

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