Siptu has agreed lower wage rate with rivals, says Greyhound

Director claims union accepts competitors paying lower rates than those his firm is seeking

Executive director of Greyhound Recycling Michael Buckley said he wants workers at his depot in Clondalkin, Dublin, to return to work under protest, at the rates he is seeking to impose, pending a “binding determination” by the Labour Relations Commission. Photograph: Alan Betson

Executive director of Greyhound Recycling Michael Buckley said he wants workers at his depot in Clondalkin, Dublin, to return to work under protest, at the rates he is seeking to impose, pending a “binding determination” by the Labour Relations Commission. Photograph: Alan Betson

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 01:00

Siptu has agreed pay rates with competitor companies in the waste industry that are lower than the rates Greyhound Recycling is seeking to impose, according to Michael Buckley, the executive director of the waste collection business. Mr Buckley made the claim in a course of an interview with The Irish Times.

In response to Mr Buckley, union official Owen Reidy said that, while it was “probably true” that the Greyhound staff are the highest paid in the sector, he did not think the assertion about the union agreeing rates elsewhere that were lower than Greyhound was proposing was “entirely true”.

Mr Reidy said that while some staff in companies that had been through an examinership programme had ended up with rates significantly lower than those paid in Greyhound, there was a “relative position” involved as well, with the Greyhound workers being asked to accept cuts of 35 per cent in their salaries.

Under protest

Mr Buckley said he wants drivers and operatives at his depot in Clondalkin, Dublin, to return to work under protest, at the rates he is seeking to impose, pending a “binding determination” by the Labour Relations Commission. He said he does not want to return to the LRC for more talks.

Mr Reidy said it was unreasonable to expect the workers to return to work under protest given the size of the pay cuts being proposed, and suggested that the old rates be maintained pending an “intensive, two-week” process at the LRC.

“Our guys are in no mood for negotiations when they are being asked to take cuts of up to 35 per cent, and we have sympathy with that view,” he said.

Mr Reidy also disputed the assertion by Mr Buckley that reports on Greyhound’s business had found that its cost base was not sustainable and that the union had agreed with these reports. “Mazars make it clear that they have based their report solely on information provided by Greyhound management and that it was not a fully comprehensive detailed audit as such. Given that the company resides in the Isle of Man, this is potentially an important point,” he said.

Victimising

He also disputed the assertion that the union had been victimising a contractor supplying services to Greyhound on the basis that he was a foreign national. This was more a matter for a particular newspaper, Mr Reidy said.

“Siptu is a union that represents and organises workers of all nationalities working in Ireland today. Indeed, Greyhound has locked out a number of our Polish members who are their employees.”

Both sides have accused the other of being involved in unofficial actions that are at variance with the procedures set out in their collective agreement.

The dispute at the Clondalkin facility began last month and affects a proportion of Greyhound’s overall staff who have pay rates that were at one stage linked to the rates paid to council workers.

Mr Buckley said he has sympathy with the view expressed by Siptu president Jack O’Connor that the sector needs a “base rate” for its workers, but that this was not something he, Mr Buckley, was in a position to achieve.