PRIVATE BUSINESS. - ELECTRICITY (SUPPLY) BILL, 1927—THIRD STAGE (RESUMED).
I desire to move amendment 110:—
Before paragraph 1 to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
"Every person who was employed by an authorised undertaker or a statutory undertaker for a period of not less than two years before the first day of March, 1927, and was so employed at the date of an order made under this Act requiring such undertaker to cease wholly or in part to use a generating station as a generating station, but who at that date had been so employed for less than five years, and who by reason of such generating station ceasing wholly or in part in pursuance of such order to be used as a generating station has suffered loss of employment, shall be entitled to a gratuity calculated on the basis of one-sixth of his annual remuneration and emoluments for every completed year of his employment."
The Schedule as it stands makes provision for compensation to employees with five or more years' service. The amendment aims at giving compensation in the shape of a lump sum or gratuity to employees with two years' service or under five years' service. It merely follows the example of the Railways Act. The numbers affected may not be very large and I think the Minister could very easily accept the amendment.
I am prepared to go so far as to accept the principle of a gratuity, but I am not accepting, for the time being, the amount stated here. I am accepting the principle of a gratuity for people with less than live years' service. There are two points I would like to hold over for further consideration. The Deputy has brought in the phrase "ceasing wholly or in part." A point was raised yesterday in regard to a similar matter and the consideration that shall be given to that point will operate on this one also. I would like to have a further opportunity of considering the amount of the gratuity. I will undertake to introduce an amendment on the Report Stage regarding these gratuities and the Deputy will then be entitled to amend the sum if he does not think it sufficient.
Will the Minister also consider the advisability of recommending to the Board that where employees lose their employment as a result of control, they shall be supplied with other employment, if other employment is going, and that younger men shall not get priority over old hands? Small gratuities are all very well in a way; they get people out of temporary difficulties, but it is rather hard on a man to lose his employment and get small compensation and then see somebody else later on getting the post he formerly occupied. I would like the Minister to consider favourably the employment of the old hands.
The point does not and cannot arise. If the Board under control shuts down a generating station, then the First Schedule will apply. If it does not shut down the station, then the First Schedule has nothing to do with the matter, and the employees are no worse than under the original undertaker.
But there might be vacancies in other departments under the Board for which these employees would be quite eligible and naturally they would think they had some claim.
The Board would not dispossess them. If a generating station is closed down, either by order of the Board or by the Board actually in control, then this Schedule applies and the Deputy's point does not arise. In the matter of appointments, priority will be given obviously to the efficient man.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment 111—
In paragraph I to delete all words from the word "Every," line 15 down to and including the figures "1927," line 17, and substitute therefor the words:—
"Every person who on the 1st day of March, 1927, was for a period of not less than five years employed by an authorised undertaker or by a statutory undertaker or by any other person engaged on an undertaking for the generation of electricity other than for his own business."
The difference between the amendment and the original position is that the amendment would include those men who are employed by non-statutory and unauthorised undertakings. I hope the Minister will not make a differentiation as between the employees in the section and in these cases.
This point would fall for consideration on the general discussion I promised with regard to the position of unauthorised undertakings. If the unauthorised undertaker is going to have a certain basis of compensation given him—and I promised to consider amendments along that line—I think the question of the employee of an unauthorised undertaker who is put out of employment by the closing down of a generating station, run by the unauthorised undertaker, will also have to be given consideration. All these amendments which seek to insert the words "or other" would naturally come up for consideration on the question of the unauthorised undertakers' position generally.
Has the Minister considered the possibility that the unauthorised undertaker, even though compensated, might not compensate his employees except steps were taken to ensure that?
Yes. May I put the position this way?—I am pretty well accepting the principle that where a generating station is closed down, it really does not matter whether it is under the control of a municipal authority, an authorised company or an unauthorised company. There will have to be a relation between the terms of the compensation fixed. One might, in fixing the terms of compensation of the unauthorised undertaker, put in an allowance for payment to employees, because they will have to be considered—each individual. If an amount for compensation were put in there, it would have to be ensured that that amount would, in fact, go to the employees dismissed. But we might deal with it as being an addition to this First Schedule. That might be the handiest way.
I do not think it is right that an employee should be penalised because of the fact that his employer did not possess certain powers. He might be quite as good a man as the employee of the authorised undertaker and I think the Minister should have no doubt about accepting the amendment. If he makes a distinction, he is going to penalise a workman because his employer did not do certain things thirty years ago, though that man may be in exactly the same grade as the employee of an authorised undertaking in the neighbouring town.
The question as to whether he is or is not the same type of man may be material but there is a much more material consideration. In the case of the authorised undertaker the employee, at least, saw before him a better chance of continuous employment, because the authorised undertaker had reserved to him an area within which he was given a monopoly. That was not so in the case of the unauthorised undertaker. Secondly, the employee of a generating station run by an unauthorised undertaker had to look forward to the fear, at least, of some other unauthorised undertaker setting up in that particular area and knocking him out of his employment. All these considerations will have to be taken into account on the argument regarding these unauthorised undertakers.
The case of another unauthorised undertaker coming in has never occurred so far.
There was the possibility of it.
The employee did not foresee that possibility.
Deputy Cooper, on the Shannon Bill, stated that such a man could not object to the competition of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. That would apply down to the case of the employee.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment 112—
In paragraph 1, line 16, after the word "period" to insert the words "(including employment with any such undertaker)."
This amendment seeks to ensure that service with any undertaking will be reckoned—that in the event of a man having been employed in an electrical undertaking and leaving that for an undertaking which is now about to be abolished, then his period of service with the previous undertaking will be reckoned.
Is not that point met in sub-section (5)? It says:—
"For the purpose of computing the period of employment of a person who is entitled to compensation ... the employment of such person with any authorised undertaker or any statutory undertaker shall be deemed to be employment with the authorised undertaker or the statutory undertaker by whom such compensation is so payable."
If that be enlarged on the lines suggested by Deputy Myles and if we insert after the word "statutory" the words "or other," would not that meet the case?
I think that would meet the case.
I am reserving the point as to whether there is to be any differentiation made between service with an authorised undertaker as opposed to service with an unauthorised undertaker. Otherwise I think I have met Deputy Nagle's point.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
113. In paragraph 1, line 19, after the word "statutory" to insert the words "or other."—(Deputies Hewat and Myles).
114. In paragraph 1, line 19, after the word "cease" to insert the words "wholly or in part."—(Deputy Nagle).
115. In paragraph (1) (d), line 35, after the word "statutory" to insert the words "or other."—(Deputy Hewat and Myles).
116. In paragraph 3, lines 57 and 60, after the word "statutory" to insert in each case the words "or other."—(Deputies Hewat and Myles).
Amendments not moved.
I move amendment 117—
In paragraph 3, after the word "schedule," line 58, to insert the following words "with an addition thereto based on the number of completed years of his service and calculated according to the following scale:—
If he has twenty or more completed years of service, an addition of ten-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments; if he has fifteen or more completed years of service and less than twenty such years, an addition of seven-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments; if he has ten or more completed years of service and less than fifteen such years, an addition of five-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments; if he has five or more completed years of service and less than ten such years, an addition of three-sixtieths of his annual remuneration and emoluments."
The compensation provided by paragraph 3 to the schedule to the Bill is limited to an amount equal to one-sixtieth of the annual remuneration and emoluments. This is a serious interference with the rights of a Local Government officer under Section 44, sub-section (2) of the Local Government Act, 1925, which reads as follows:—
A local body shall, with the consent of the Minister, grant to a pensionable officer in their employment who has at least ten years service and (a) who is removed from his office for a cause other than misconduct or incapacity or (b) whose office is abolished, or (c) whose position has in the opinion of the Minister been materially altered to his detriment, owing to changes in the conditions of his employment made without reasonable cause and who resigns his office with the consent of the Minister, an annual allowance for his life not greater than two-thirds of his yearly salary and emoluments.
The Minister for Local Government and Public Health in a circular of the 4th April, 1925, to each local authority stated the general policy in regard to superannuation and compensation and promised in addition to the normal amount of one-sixtieth of the annual remuneration and pensionable emoluments in certain cases, i.e., in cases where officers' employment may be terminated through no fault of theirs, the rate of pension may be increased by one-half. The Railways (Officers and Servants) Act, 1926, provided a special compensation for officers and servants similarly affected by the amalgamation of the railways. It fixed, in addition to the amount calculated at the rate of one-sixtieth of the annual remuneration and emoluments for each completed year of service, an amount calculated in accordance with the same scale as set out in the amendment.
The present Bill proposes a monopoly of the production and supply of electricity, and an engineer who suffers loss of employment through the closing by the Board of the generating station in which he is employed will find it extremely difficult to obtain any other suitable appointment within the Free State.
Amendment 118 is a similar amendment to that, with a special proviso.
In paragraph 3, line 61, to add at the end after the word "discharge" the words "but with an addition thereto based on the number of completed years' service with an undertaker or undertakers according to the following scale, that is to say:— If he has twenty or more completed years of service an addition of ten-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments; if he has fifteen or more completed years of service and less than twenty such years an addition of seven-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments; if he has ten or more completed years of service and less than fifteen such years an addition of five-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments; if he has five or more completed years of service and less than ten such years an addition of three-sixtieths of his remuneration and emoluments;
Provided also that if at the date of his entry into the service of the authorised undertaker or statutory or other undertaker any such person had special qualifications or experience specially qualifying him for employment by the authorised or statutory undertaker or other undertaker his actual period of service with the undertaker or undertakers shall be increased by such number of years not exceeding twenty as may seem just having regard to the particular circumstances of the case, and thereupon his compensation shall be calculated on such increased period of service."—(Deputies Hewat and Myles.)
It is practically the same amendment as 117.
We will take the two amendments together and take a decision on the wider one.
I wish to support the amendment moved by Deputy Doyle. In this amendment the generally accepted principle of added years is involved. This principle has been accepted in legislation passed by this House, where men have been deprived of their livelihood under abnormal circumstances after a certain number of years' service. In these cases they were given the privilege of having a certain number of years added for the purpose of increasing their pension. I think the amendment deserves support.
I would like to call the Minister's attention, also, to the proviso in the amendment standing in my name regarding special qualifications and experience, and I ask him to take that into consideration.
With regard to the proviso, what is the Deputy's intention as to who is to judge these special qualifications or experience?
You have got your arbitrator.
Is this a matter that might be referred to the arbitrator? It seems to me that on this point we must have some clear definition of the special qualifications or experience.
Perhaps the Minister would consider it before the next stage.
I can do that. I would also have to consider the whole effect of this special proviso and the addition that it will make to the burden that will have to be borne by the electricity consumer. With regard to the added years, Deputy Doyle has referred to certain rights guaranteed to local employees. I am prepared to agree to an amendment to this schedule that if any person to whom the schedule applies enjoyed on 1st March, 1927, better terms and better conditions than those set out in the schedule he will get these better terms or better conditions. That will meet the point in regard to municipal employees, but I would like to have a little more consideration on the added years question, on that one simple point. Added years have been given to railwaymen, but that was on the basis that there were certain points surrounding the employment of railwaymen which were supposed to indicate something in the nature of permanency, and it was because that permanency was broken in on that years were added. There were various arguments used here to that effect, and reference was made to the fact that the Unemployment Insurance Act did not apply after three years and so on. Similar conditions would have to be shown to obtain as regards the employees in a generating plant belonging to any undertaker before the analogy would be completely made. I am not sure that the analogy does completely apply.
I do not think that this is going to add any very big burden to the consumers. That may be a point that would not be worth talking about, but I would like to have an opportunity of considering what is the likelihood of the burden being very heavy which would hereafter be thrown on the electricity consumers. If it seems material I should require some further argument as to the reason for adding these years at all.
The analogy of the railwaymen has been put up, but I do not think that analogy is a sound one. There has never been the same attitude with regard to the permanency of employees in a generating plant as there was, or was alleged to be, in regard to railwaymen. I do not think the analogy is complete. In regard to this amendment and the next one, I am prepared definitely to have consideration given to this matter of special qualifications to see if some better definition can be got so that we would know what burden we were assuming. Secondly, if we discover that, we can agree that if people to whom the schedule applies had on 1st March, 1927, better terms than those terms in the schedule, these better terms will be secured to them. Then, thirdly, I will hold over for consideration the whole point of the added years, but not basing my consideration on the incomplete analogy of the railwaymen. It will depend, to a great extent, on the likely burden to be thrown on consumers in future.
Do I take it that the Minister has accepted the principle of the amendment so far as authorised and statutory undertakings are concerned?
No, I do not clearly accept the added years proposal at this moment, with regard to anybody, authorised or unauthorised.
I take it that those who are in the service of local authorities have those rights already, and therefore the Minister is not going to take them from them.
They should have given good service to get the benefit of added years. Added years are based on the service given.
That is in the amendment. The point I was drawing the Minister's attention to is that if he has twenty or more completed years of service——
It goes down along the scale from twenty to five.
The number of years is sufficient to show there has been a considerable element of permanency in his employment. I think the Minister should take that into account when he is giving consideration to this matter.
That is a point that will have to be considered—how far there was anything approaching security or any promise in regard to permanency.
I ask the Minister whether it is intended to take from any employee any consideration he might get in the way of added years under existing Acts? If, say, the Dublin Corporation has power to add years of service to the service of a faithful employee, a man who gave the best years of his life to that service, and that it is cut short through some action of the Dáil, that would be very unfair. Surely it is not proposed to take from that man the right he would have under the public authority to have a number of years added to his service in order to make his gratuity or pension reasonable. I understood all along the line that no man would lose any rights he had when the question of compensation was about to be considered. I consider that these men should get the advantage of added years in order to compensate them for having given the best years of their life to the electrical undertakings.
I thought the point I had made—that if there is any person to whom the schedule applies and who is discovered to have been in enjoyment of better conditions on 1st March, that those are secured to him under this schedule—covered the whole matter. I do not see why it should not cover it. I want specially to emphasise the right which had accrued to him on the 1st March, 1927. I do not want to have any tidying up of the situation so as to embarrass matters between the 1st March, 1927, and the setting up of the Board.
Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
119. In paragraph 5, after the word "statutory" in lines 20, 23 and 25, to insert in each case the words "or other."—Deputies Hewat and Myles.
120. In paragraph 6, after the word "statutory," lines 29 and 37, to insert in each case the words "or other."—Deputies Hewat and Myles.
121. In paragraph 7, after the word "statutory," line 41, to insert the words "or other."—Deputies Hewat and Myles.
122. In paragraph 8, after the word "statutory," lines 46, 50 and 53, to insert in each case the words "or other."—Deputies Hewat and Myles.
124. In paragraph 9 (a) and (b), after the word "statutory," lines 57 and 62, page 46, and line 1, page 47, to insert in each case the words "or other."—Deputies Hewat and Myles.
Amendments not moved.
Before paragraph 9 (a) to insert a new sub-paragraph as follows:—
"(a) between any person and any authorised undertaker or statutory undertaker (as the case may be) as to whether such person is entitled to compensation under this schedule or."
The Deputy's amendment has the effect of making a reference to the arbitrator, not merely as to the amount of the compensation, but whether a person is entitled to be compensated. This will be an insertion to be made and I will hold it over for drafting.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That the First Schedule stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Second Schedule and Title agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Bill reported with amendments.
Fourth Stage ordered for Wednesday, 20th April.