Redundancy Payments Bill, 1967: Committee Stage (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following amendment:
To delete subsection (1).
It might be no harm briefly to remind the House about this amendment. The section proposes to take out from the cover for compensation, which has been traditional since 1924 in this State, employees of CIE. I objected to this, saying there had been no consultation about it and because it unnecessarily complicates the situation for both management and trade unions in any further rail closures. Most of the employees would be covered by the traditional compensation provisions traditional to railwaymen. Anyone who had joined the service after 1st January this year would not be covered by this traditional method but by the provisions of this Bill.
There is a good historical basis for the sort of compensation attached to railway closures because of the peculiar nature of railway work; and there is no good reason why, 43 years after the start of this compensation system, we provide for compensation that would be far less than has operated up to the present time. We are asking the Minister to delete this paragraph from section 48 because of these arguments and also because of the fact that if this went through some of the employees will have no cover at all. They would be the employees who are exempted from paying full social welfare insurance. I am not talking about the people with more than £1,200 a year but of people who earn less than that who do not pay the full social welfare insurance. This is not because of any desire on the part of the employees concerned. Because of section 4 of this Bill they would be excluded from the cover of redundancy payments and also by reason of subsection (1) of section 48. This would be defenceless in a situation where men would be affected by a rail closure. I hope the Minister will see the importance of this and delete the subsection.
Entitlement to compensation under the Transport Act is determined by the circumstances of dismissal and related to circumstances like dieselisation and the termination of railway services and situations of that kind. It is not possible to ascertain in advance with any degree of accuracy what the position of individual employees would be under that Act. It is desirable that those who could be covered by this Act should be covered. I agree, in the case of people now serving with CIE, and now entitled to special redundancy considerations in the special circumstances which I have mentioned, that those people should continue to be so entitled, but newcomers into the service of CIE would come into the service knowing that so far as redundancy is concerned they were covered by the main Act only and they should not in any way be aggrieved because there is nothing being taken away from them. What I intend to do is that those who are already entitled to special provision under the Transport Act would still be entitled to such cover but that people now coming into the service of CIE would be covered by the provisions of this Act and would not come under the Transport Act. I do not think that there is any point of disagreement there.
There is plenty. What the Minister has said is an explanation of what is intended under this section and I think I properly interpreted what is intended by this section. What the Minister has said is a factual statement of what he is doing. I do not agree that it is a proper approach to the problem and I would ask the opinion of the House on this. It is not good enough to say that when people come in they are not covered by the traditional compensation but by redundancy compensation and that they would have no grievance. This does not have regard to human nature at all.
You might as well say to a member of a trade union: "You took on this job and you knew the pay you were going to get". Things do not operate like that. The problem you will have is that this situation will never be appreciated by the individuals concerned and they will come back again asking about this. You cannot say to Joe O'Sullivan, if CIE decide to close a railway line, that he is not getting the same compensation as John Murphy with whom he is working because he joined the service after the 1st January, 1968, and he is not covered by the other Act. That will not satisfy him and it will cause terrible complications for those who are dealing with the problem of redundancy.
The Minister might have regard to the fact that because of the nature and the extent of the compensation provided as a fall-back for railway men it has been possible for CIE and their predecessors to deal with trade unions in a satisfactory manner in regard to closures. There have never been industrial disputes in regard to that. It has been possible to deal with this by placing people in other employment and if they suffered because of this they were entitled to compensation or else there was longterm compensation given to long service people.
This has worked satisfactorily up to now. I am not aware that CIE feel that this is unsatisfactory and they want to change it. This is not alone a problem in this country. We had a problem in Northern Ireland also where, again, because of the situation there was provision for redundancy payments to the people there. This covers every person, irrespective of whether that person is above or under it. Even there, when dealing with the problem of railway closures and redundancy, the employers and the trade unions had to negotiate for special provision for the people concerned. take them out of the cover of the national scheme and apply a special agreement negotiated in the circumstances for them.
This agreement about redundancy in CIE has been embodied in legislation since 1924 and I do not think that there is any good reason why in 1968 we should depart from that for future entrants. The Minister has not adverted to the other aspect of it that you would be leaving out certain employees without any cover at all. You are taking them out of the cover of the Transport Act and they cannot come within this Act. I would again ask the Minister to accept this amendment. There is not a great deal involved in it. We could not attempt to estimate the number of people who might be affected in the future. Neither could we attempt to estimate the case of CIE. As far as I know they have no complaints about the operation of the compensation provisions up to now.
Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand part of the section."
The Committee divided: Tá, 21; Níl, 8.
- Ahern, Liam.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Brennan, John J.
- Browne, Seán.
- Cole, John C.
- Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
- Farrell, Joseph.
- Fitzsimons, Patrick.
- Honan, Dermot P.
- Killilea, Mark.
- McGlinchey, Bernard.
- McGowan, Patrick.
- Martin, James J.
- Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
- O'Reilly, Patrick
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Patrick W.
- Ryan, William.
- Sheldon, William A. W.
- Teehan, Patrick J.
- Yeats, Michael.
- Conlon, John F.
- Crowley, Patrick.
- Davidson, Mary F.
- Dooge, James C. I.
- FitzGerald, Garret M. D.
- Murphy, Dominick F.
- O'Sullivan, Denis J.
- Rooney, Éamon.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators Miss Davidson and Murphy.
Question declared carried.
Section 48 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 45:
To delete subparagraph (ii).
This is a section which provides for the modification or winding up of existing schemes and arrangements for the provision of superannuation and redundancy payments. It provides that any such scheme may be modified or wound up "by agreement with the different parties concerned" under paragraph (i). I accept it up to there. What concerns me is that we go on in paragraph (2) to say:
In accordance with regulations made by the Minister (after consultation . . .
But, at his discretion in other words. We are providing here for the Minister's sole discretion to modify or wind up a superannuation scheme arising out of the setting up of this Redundancy Payments Act. I find this very sweeping indeed. I do not know why it was necessary. Perhaps the Minister would say why it is necessary to have such sweeping powers. I would prefer to see a situation in which the modification by winding up would be done by agreement with the different parties and not by the Minister acting on his own discretion after consultation, but ultimately at his own discretion. I object to this.
I do not envisage any situation where this subsection would be used to impose a modification of a private scheme against the wishes of either of the parties concerned. But there are schemes relating to superannuation and redundancy which are controlled by Government Departments and which do not contain such provision for amendment or modification. The provision in this Bill is similar to section 18 of the Social Welfare Act of 1960. By including this provision it makes it possible to facilitate the amendment of schemes without having recourse to complicated legal procedures and legislation for amending trusts, and so on.
The question of making regulations in relation to the scheme would arise out of agreement not being found possible between the parties. In most cases the provisions here are to allow for an agreed amendment being carried out. If parties agree and if their schemes do not in themselves contain provision for change as agreed then, under the provisions of this section, they can do it without having recourse to legislation or other very expensive procedures. This would happen in the greatest number of cases. I have an example of one scheme. It would enable the Department of Finance to modify the Superannuation Act applicable to non-pensionable State employees. Agreement has already been reached in this but it cannot be modified without this provision. It is visualised by the Government that where agreement cannot be reached and where it would be desirable to amend, this could be done. The intention is to make it possible that if there is agreement to have provision that they can do it. The added bit is to make it possible in cases where you cannot have agreement to make it possible to have a decision.
The Minister says he does not visualise the section to modify a private scheme against the reasonable objections of the parties. Who will decide whether the objections are reasonable or not? It is up to the Minister's discretion. I cannot see the sense of providing a section like this to deal with a scheme such as he has mentioned as an example. This scheme does not confine itself in any way to statutory schemes or schemes operated by the Government.
Private schemes can come under it on the representations of one party. The Minister could have representations made to him to consider amending a scheme and it is entirely at his discretion, having heard both sides, to make the change or not to make the change—to make a decision if it has not been made by agreement.
I think this is monstrous. Suppose I entered into a scheme with my employer and my employer wanted to modify it, even though we do not agree. We arrived at an agreement but he can go to the Minister and persuade him to modify the scheme. I can see the sense of the Minister having power to modify a scheme by agreement or, failing agreement, at his own discretion where he, as a member of the Government, is the employer—in the case of a public servant.
I can see the Senator's argument. I cannot change it at the moment but I will look into it before the Report Stage. The Senator can then, if necessary, bring in the amendment again.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section agreed to.
Amendment No. 46 has been disposed of with a group of amendments.
My difficulty is to recollect what happened yesterday. The amendment proposed that the Minister could make an offset arrangement such as exists under the British arrangement.
The confusion arises because this arrangement would be necessary only if a previous amendment to extend the scope of the scheme had been accepted. The previous amendments seeking to do this were not accepted.
I did not appreciate the significance of taking my amendment with the group. Had I done so, I should not have agreed to it.
The matter was put to the House and the House agreed to it. With the agreement of the House, and if the Minister is agreeable that the matter should be discussed again, I shall allow the Senator, as a concession, to move the amendment.
I ask your indulgence to retrieve my error. I move amendment No. 46:
Before section 50 to insert a new section as follows:
"The Minister may make provision by regulations for securing that where apart from this section a person is entitled to compensation under a statutory provision to which this section applies, and the circumstances are such that he is also entitled to a redundancy payment, the amount of the redundancy payment shall be set off against the compensation to which he would be entitled apart from this section".
The point here, as I understand it, is that there are many people earning £1,200 a year and I suggest that the best way of dealing with this matter is by way of an offset mechanism such as they have in Britain rather than by the Minister's system. I should like to put it to the Minister that it would be useful to him to have the power to adopt this approach, which is in the British scheme, and it has been put to me by people in industry here as being a desirable feature. I should just like to hear from the Minister as to why he does not want to have this power. He may have felt that it has not been used very fully in Britain but there is a feeling here that it would be a useful way of handling this problem. My amendment does not make it obligatory that the Minister will have to deal with this problem in this way. The Minister has an option to deal with this in this way or in his own way, whichever is most acceptable to the people concerned. I do not know why the Minister will not accept my offer of additional power to operate the scheme in this way should it appear in particular circumstances that this is the best way of handling it.
I am quite clear in my mind that non-manual workers under £1,200 a year and manual workers also can be in superannuation schemes. The basis of linking this amendment to amendments Nos. 4 and 5, the significance of which completely escaped me, is something we cannot stand over. This is quite a separate point and I should like to hear the Minister on it.
We discussed this in the formulation of the Bill and the decision was made, in consultation, to do it in the way I am doing it. The only thing in my mind now is what the Senator asks for in regard to people over £1,200 a year who are not covered by the redundancy scheme. If I find that my examination of this warrants amending legislation, then we might have a situation where this section would be more applicable and more useful to them. It was a positive decision to do it in this way in regard to the present scheme. I discussed this with the parties concerned. I can just see one situation where it might be more desirable that we would have it done in the way the Senator wants.
I am a little unhappy. The Minister said he had discussions with some people.
The trade unions and the employers.
Who decided that the best way to approach this is under section 49? The House is entitled to know why it has been decided to do it in this way. It may well be the best way but we are entitled to know why it was decided to do it in this way. The Minister has said that he was advised that this was the best procedure and that it was in the interests of all parties that this was the best approach. I have been approached in the opposite way and I have been told that what I want would be the best way. I have been told that there is not agreement. If there is not agreement I would hope that the Minister would accept my amendment. This does not mean that he must do this in the way I want. It leaves the matter open to him to do it in the best way for the workers concerned. I believe that there is not a very substantial number of people under superannuation schemes at the moment to whom section 49 and my proposed amendment would apply.
Is there any big principle involved in this? Senator FitzGerald is only offering the Minister another option which might be more satisfactory. It might be more satisfactory certainly where you might have one individual redundant and instead of amending and modifying the whole superannuation scheme in regard to his employment you would deal with it by simply setting off what he would get under this Bill by the provisions he would get under his own compensation scheme. I do not believe that there is any big principle involved in this, if I understand it correctly.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions stated that they wanted the pension scheme separate from the redundancy scheme. I accepted that at the end of a long discussion. I have to accept the point of view of the representatives of the workers and the employers and make a balanced decision. They felt very strongly that the pension should not be offset against a redundancy payment.
I can see that but it is not what we are talking about.
There is some confusion here. I can quite see a case being made for this. I cannot see that it matters to the worker what particular way you do this. My proposal is that the Minister should have power to do this in either way and, after consultation with all those concerned, he should decide what is the best one to use. It does not permit the Minister to do it in this way. Members of the trade union might prefer it this way.
In view of the discussion yesterday and today the Chair feels that it is time to bring this matter to a head.
We did not discuss this yesterday.
As far as the Chair is concerned, it was discussed yesterday.
An entirely different point was discussed yesterday which was the extension of the scheme to over £1,200.
There may have been a mistake there but the Chair was clear in putting this matter before the House that this was being discussed. The Chair was clear that those amendments were being discussed together. The issue before the House now is a decision on amendment 46.
With respect, we are in Committee. You might have ruled yesterday that we should not discuss it. There should not be a time limit on this.
The Chair has allowed a discussion in order to get clarification on certain points but the whole matter may not be discussed at length. Has the Minister anything to add?
It would be better if we could all go back and have a look at it. I have undertaken to consider further one point made by Senator Murphy. If we all look at the facts we might on Report Stage get something on which we would agree.
We will discuss it in an orderly manner on Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section agreed to.
Sections 51 to 54, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 55 stand part of the Bill."
I should like to raise the question of the power to relieve difficulties. This refers to the mechanism by which funds would be collected for this scheme under this Bill, the mechanism to which the Minister referred on Second Stage when he explained that there had been a change of view on the question of the best method of getting over the difficulty of collecting funds for the scheme. What he said at that time was that it is now proposed apparently for one year to operate a separate card and a separate stamp and thereafter to combine it with the social welfare scheme. I would like the Minister to reconsider using the powers of this section to simplify this whole system because from an employer's point of view to introduce a new card and a new stamp quite unnecessarily simply for one year when, in fact, it is now seen that the difficulties created by the Department of Social Welfare stamp, overcome and that the scheme can be operated on the Social Welfare stamp, as it should have been clear that it could have been operated from the very beginning, would be an absurd burden to inflict on industry.
If one takes the building industry for example they are already stamping three cards: the Social Welfare card, the Wet-time card and the Pension Scheme card. The idea that a fourth card should be superimposed is really an intolerable burden. In firms which are highly mechanised now this means a complete re-working of their whole system and for firms with computers a very complicated mechanism is involved. For firms of any substantial size it would involve the employment of an extra staff member to operate this scheme. This is something which is unnecessary and the only reason for it is that the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Labour were unable to sort out their administrative difficulties. They now have sorted them out but apparently there is the problem of simply doing this quickly enough. I have been strongly pressed on all sides on this question and I think Senators on all sides of the House will take the view that the Minister should reconsider the situation. I cannot imagine a greater administrative monstrosity than the introduction of a separate card and stamp for every worker in Ireland, except the non-manual workers earning more than £1,200 a year for one year, just because of some breakdown in communication between two Government Departments.
I think the Minister must reconsider this and get those stamps on the Social Welfare stamp even if he has to stick his stamp on top of the Social Welfare one. The idea that there should be separate cards is something that is quite unacceptable and I would appeal to the Minister to get over the difficulties whatever they are and not to impose this ridiculous burden on industry because of some difficulties with the Department of Social Welfare.
I cannot argue against that now but when introduced in the Dáil the scope was different in the two schemes—the Social Welfare and the Redundancy Schemes. By accepting amendments in the Dáil I changed the scope of the Redundancy Scheme in such a way that we might now be able to do with one stamp for the future but it is too late to do that for the first year. It takes some months to have the stamps made available. For the first year I am afraid we will have to do it the way I propose, and after that I will have to try to have one stamp.
Is it my understanding that the Minister will have two separate cards?
There will have to be two different cards for the women because their current social welfare cards are valid until July. I cannot argue against having unified cards for the future but this cannot be arranged immediately. If I had changed my mind before going to the Dáil about the scope it might have been possible at that time. It is a matter of sheer physical timing.
Could the Minister not arrange that the extra stamp should be stuck on top of the ordinary welfare stamp? To have an extra card seems unnecessary. I quite see that there is not time to change the stamps at this stage although, indeed, it could have been done if it were got after quickly but why have two cards? You can stick one stamp on top of the other. Why involve employers in another 70,000 cards to stamp and to file and look after?
It would have to be an act of faith to say that the stamp is underneath the second stamp.
No. If the Minister has ever collected stamps he is aware that some crude juvenile stamp collectors lick the top part of the stamp and stick it on and you can see the other part.
You would have employers running after fluttering stamps around their offices. I do not think it is possible. If it were possible, I would do it.
Perhaps the Minister will have another look at it in the light of the suggestions I have made.
Question put and agreed to.
Government amendment No. 47:
In subsection (1), line 51, before ‘in" to insert "or any other Minister".
This is purely a drafting amendment. Other Ministers apart from the Minister for Labour may incur expenses in bringing this Act into effect so that the amendment is necessary to give legal effect to the payment of such expenses of other Ministers.
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 56, as amended, stand part of the Bill".
I am not happy with the arrangements in this section under which the Redundancy Fund will have to pay to have the scheme administered. Subsection (2) says:
There shall be paid to the Minister for Finance out of the Redundancy Fund . . . such sums as the Minister may estimate . . .to be the part of the said expenses of the Minister or any other Minister in carrying into effect section 39,
I have left out certain parts in the paraphrasing. It seems to me that if the Government are not prepared to make a contribution of one-third to the cost of the scheme which we were discussing yesterday, and had some difficulty about the manner of discussion because of the Rules of Order, at least they ought to be prepared to administer the scheme without taking the cost of administration out of the pockets of employers and workers.
I introduced an amendment in the Dáil to make it possible for the Minister for Labour to have the State pay for the administration of the scheme except the expenses of the Tribunal and that is what is intended. The administration of the Redundancy Scheme and the Resettlement Scheme would be at State expense but the running of the Tribunal would be paid for out of the Redundancy Fund.
It only applies to expenses arising out of section 39.
Yes, expenses of the Tribunal will come from the Fund but any other expenses in the administration of the Act would be carried by the State.
Is that what subsection (2) is meant to mean?
I introduced an amendment to make it possible to have the administration expenses paid by the State.
But subsection (2) says "There shall be paid to the Minister for Finance out of the Redundancy Fund . . . such sums as the Minister may estimate . . . to be part of the said expenses of the Minister."
That refers to the expenses of the Appeals Tribunal.
It is carrying section 39 into effect.
Yes, that is for the appeals machinery. In other words, the State will pay the administration costs but this section gives power to take from the Fund money to pay for the Appeals Tribunal.
This mandatory requirement is confined to section 39?
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 57 and 58 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 48:
In paragraph 1, line 31, to delete "50" and substitute "65".
This is a suggestion I made on Second Stage and on which I feel strongly. The Minister did not advert to it in his reply. There is no reference to the point I made. He has accepted in principle—he made reference to this in his opening speech—that the figure of 90 per cent in relation to earnings is an appropriate figure. That is to say, he is limiting it to 90 per cent. Under his scheme, in fact, no worker will get 90 per cent of earnings. The scheme is devised to prevent them getting it. Broadly speaking, and I gave figures on my Second Stage speech on this, workers earning more than £16 a week will not get it and workers with £15 a week will get nothing like a figure of 90 per cent but something like 60 per cent. The reason is that redundancy compensation is fixed so low that unless there are financial compensations accruing, the 90 per cent cannot be reached by a worker in many cases if he is a higher paid worker unless he has a large family.
We should try to ensure that in as many cases as possible workers would get 90 per cent of earnings during redundancy when they get these weekly payments. I want to substitute 65 per cent for 50 per cent. This may appear to involve more cost but owing to the operation of the 90 per cent ceiling in the great majority of cases, that is, cases of lower paid workers and of workers with large families, it would involve no extra cost because they would already have had the 90 per cent. The extra cost will arise in the minority of cases where there will be hardship.
By accepting my amendment the Minister would alleviate a burden. which would not be a hardship on the scheme. The method I chose is a simple one. At first sight it may seem a bit radical to push up from 50 to 90. I am concerned about the higher paid worker who has established a certain standard of living and who in the period after redundancy is in a grave condition because he will be getting back to a much smaller proportion of his earnings than 90 per cent. This could be a hardship and the Minister should have regard to it.
I would support the arguments put forward, which are very convincing. It may occur on the basis of a straight claim for a higher rate of benefit, not simply dealing with the better paid workers or small families. It would make the operation of the scheme better if you had the provision as suggested in the amendment and it would enable the people concerned to face the possibility of change on redundancy which otherwise it would not do. The people to whom we are referring would be largely skilled craftsmen who are customarily well organised and who have a large measure of industrial strength. If the redundancy pay they would be entitled to under any change proposed is not satisfactory, it would be virtually impossible to make the change. It would be prudent in the circumstances to help the situation along by providing that the minimum be changed here to 65 instead of 50.
I have indicated often enough that I would be happy to increase the rate of weekly payments if it could be done without harmful effect on industry. The best arrangements to provide in the Bill are those which would ensure that the scheme is viable when in operation. There are so many imponderables, ages, lengths of service, levels of wages, and so on before redundancy, and the numbers of people who will become redundant. I have taken the line all along, and I take it in this, that we begin with the benefits I have estimated as viable and, if it transpires that we can do better, then I will have to come back to the Oireachtas for any improvements the Oireachtas would like to make in them. We would all like to do better for redundant workers in weekly payments but I would have to be sure that we can do it.
We cannot be sure about the higher paid worker who can be forced back to 65 per cent of his previous earnings. It would not be likely to upset the fund. If the Minister discovers that the fund is viable and there is room to make a concession of this kind without raising the contributions, for example, why can he not do so? He is binding his hands here. Outside the House we are not always too keen to give powers to a Minister but there are cases in which it is appropriate to give power to a Minister without his having to come back to the Oireachtas. It is arguable whether the Minister should have to come back to the Oireachtas.
What I press is that if the Minister finds that the contribution he is fixing is yielding a return he ought to have power, without coming back to the Oireachtas, to vary the benefits and I would like to see him varying the benefits in this respect. If the Minister is prepared on Report Stage to vary the limits of the contributions fixed within the present limit of the fund and within the limits fixed by the Oireachtas I am prepared to await this. I do not think it is right for the Minister to tie his hands so that no addition can be introduced without his return to the Oireachtas. He should have power to vary the limits within the fund.
I am not so frightened of going to the Oireachtas. It would be by way of resolution of both Houses, not amending the legislation. If I come back to the Oireachtas, I cannot imagine there being a difficulty.
You could not amend this by resolution.
I should be glad if the Minister referred me to the section which enables him to amend this part of the schedule by resolution.
Section 30 (3) refers to it. The making of the order is covered in an earlier section. Section 5 states:
Whenever an order is proposed to be made under section 4 (4), 4 (5), 4 (6), 19 (3), 28 (3), 30 (3) or 47, a draft of the proposed order shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the order shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.
I accept that as reasonable and proper procedure for amending payments and I am prepared to leave it at that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 49:
In paragraph 2, lines 37 and 41, and in paragraph 3, line 46, to delete "maternity benefit" and substitute "maternity allowance".
The amendment deals with the calculation of the income, the 90 per cent provision in the schedule. We want the words "maternity benefit" deleted and "maternity allowance" substituted. Maternity benefit is made up of a lump sum plus 55/- a week and it is unfair when you calculate the 90 per cent. The suggestion in the amendment is that what should be calculated is the allowance of 55/- only.
Surely that is what was intended.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 50, 51 and 52 may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 50:
To delete paragraph 4.
It is the waiting period to which I object. I am not very clear as to why this waiting period found its way into our social welfare legislation and is now being carried into this Bill. It has been a matter of complaint at trade union congresses year after year. It seems to me that if it is an administrative difficulty it is about time we overcome it. Is it a fact that the Department cannot get sufficient staff who would be able to pay the people who are entitled to benefits immediately they become entitled to them and not have them hanging around for two weeks? Or is this a sort of system of hardening them off, of letting them suffer for a couple of weeks, two in this case? It may be said it is all right, that these people will be in receipt of a lump sum.
We are talking about weekly benefits and it would make it easier for any worker waiting while readaptation was being considered if he knew his weekly payment was coming at the end of the week, though not the weekly amount to which he had become accustomed. At least he could give this few pounds each week to his wife and not have to say to her: "Mary, we have to wait for a few weeks before we get any payment." I cannot quite see the reason for this. It is something which should not be in the Bill and I press the Minister very strongly to make it possible to arrange to pay the workers concerned immediately they become redundant. If they are made redundant on a Friday, they should be in receipt of their payment the following Friday.
I support this amendment. I was so puzzled by the reason for this paragraph that in trying to amend it I had to propose two alternative amendments. My first amendment is in case there is a difficulty in administering it, in paying the money in the period for which it is due. Without knowing the reason behind the paragraph, it is hard to know what to say. I suggest in my first amendment that the two weeks be reduced to one, on the assumption that there is an administrative difficulty which could be got over more quickly. There is also a principle of delaying payment for some reason. If there is a good reason for delaying, fair enough, but if it is purely administrative, then the legislation should ensure that the person entitled to payment should not be deprived of the two weeks payments. An administrative difficulty could be got over and we should establish here that the worker will be paid for the two weeks.
I started off with four weeks before I went to the Dáil. This is not like ordinary unemployment assistance. The rate of payment is related to the man's or woman's previous pay. The length of service, the period of service before 40 years of age and after 40 years of age, has to be taken into account. It is very complicated. I was not thinking of a case where one man would come along and where only his case had to be calculated. I was thinking of situations in which a number of people come up for consideration and each one gets a different payment because of the differences in the periods of service. When a person becomes redundant, a certificate of redundancy is sent in by the employer to the exchange. The calculation of individual cases will take a long time physically. I do not know how much time exactly will be needed and originally I allowed two weeks notice and a further four week period while payment is deferred. This four week period was reduced to two weeks. I emphasise that the deferment does not mean that payment is taken from the man. He does not lose any entitlement, only that he starts getting the money at a later date.
He loses it for two weeks.
His number of payments will not be reduced. If he has ten weeks payment to get——
If he becomes re-employed?
He will get credit for the whole number.
That is a lot of use to him.
I suppose there could be a saving in practice but I did not think of it in that way. If people came in as individuals we could do it, possibly, in one week. There is no principle involved. It is a matter of making it possible to work the scheme.
Of course, there is a principle.
There is no strong principle in the periods of two weeks or four weeks. There is the question of allowing time to make it possible to pay the man what he is entitled. I do not know what to do. I thought the two weeks was reasonable.
If the Minister said that there was an administrative difficulty in regard to doing this thing instantaneously, I would accept that he would have power to postpone the payment or should not be at fault for not making payment within the period but I would not accept that the immediate payment shall not be paid. I would accept that it may be paid, or words to that effect. It certainly is not a reason for never paying it.
The Minister must have some provision which will enable him to get over the administrative difficulties involved. You would need to amend "shall" to "may". The other thing which concerns me very much is the latter part of the subsection which says "and shall not be paid in respect of that two weeks period." It simply is unacceptable that he must lose his entitlement. The man is redundant and he tries to find another job. He will spend four or five weeks on that. He gets two weeks payment. It is no consolation that if he becomes redundant again he will get two weeks deferred payment. This man is out of work for four or five weeks. If there is an administrative complication, then let us provide that the Minister shall not be required to make payment within the two weeks period but may when there is difficulty postpone it for two weeks. When it is made let it be by retrospection. Nothing which the Minister has said justifies "shall" in the first two lines or "shall not be paid" at the end of the sub-paragraph. It justifies the middle part. I would ask the Minister to consider my second amendment if he feels that the two week period is necessary. From what he said at the end I wonder whether it is so hard and fast. If the Minister feels that he must have the two weeks let him take that as an optional period. Nothing in what the Minister says justifies the docking of the money for the two week period. It only justifies the postponement of payment.
I think the Minister was under a misapprehension when he talked about taking account of the period of service after reaching 40 years of age. That, as far as I can see, does not affect the payment. It affects the length of time so it does not provide any complication in arriving at the decision about the weekly payment to be made to the worker concerned. This waiting period always gives me the impression that in some way the worker is getting some kind of kick. If a person is unemployed for two weeks he does not get any payment. He is getting a kick that in some way he is at fault because he is out of a job.
I would imagine that in any redundancy we would be dealing with there would be agreement between the trade unions and the employers. An employer could well say: "We will reorganise and this is how we will deal with it. A certain number will have to be made redundant at a certain stage." You then turn around to those people redundant and say: "For the first two weeks you are not going to get any weekly payment." The worker never recovers those two weeks. This will make it more difficult to approach the problem. I want to delete the subsection altogether but maybe the Minister might find it more feasible, administratively, if it was amended simply to allow for a period but that the person concerned would not lose benefit for those two weeks; in other words, that the paragraph might read: "A weekly payment may not be paid to a person entitled thereto until the expiration of a period of two weeks beginning from the date of the termination of his employment" and drop the rest of the sentence. Maybe that is not the best wording possible. I want to provide that there should not be a situation where a redundant worker would have to lose two weeks benefit simply because he was redundant. This would make for difficulty in the reorganised scheme.
I already reduced it to two weeks in the Dáil and I think I need that. If, after some experience of operation of the scheme, it is shown that the period should be altered I will change it but I think it should be left as it is for the present at least.
Would the Minister not accept the two points we made? First of all, he may need it in some cases but he should not take it that he should deprive a person of the payment of this money. Secondly, even if he requires time to effect payment this should not affect the amount paid.
I think any law should apply equally to everybody. I do not know that some people should get paid at once and some not for two weeks.
Would the Minister not accept my second point, that is, that there should not be any docking of the amount of money involved and that the last words "and shall not be paid in respect of that two week period" should go out? Everybody would accept that in those circumstances there would in some cases be delays but to say that nobody may get the money because there might be delays and difficulties in some cases seems to be wrong. That is quite unacceptable. Could I ask the Minister if he would accept what I said about dropping the last few words? I do not think that anything he has said justifies the inclusion of the words "shall not be paid in respect of that two week period".
I do not think I could change that.
It needs to be that way. You cannot have one law for one person and a different one for others.
The Minister has not answered my question. I would ask him to drop the words "and shall not be paid in respect of that two week period". Everybody would then get paid for that period. When they get paid is a different question. Would the Minister accept the deletion of those words, or if he wants to include them, would he make it "may" instead of "shall"?
Might I make a last appeal to the Minister in regard to this? I can assure him that there is the greatest resentment about this waiting period. The worker thinks he is paying insurance for it. He is paying for it by a stamp every week. He may be paying this for many years and he finds that eventually he is made redundant. As he sees it the State is docking him two weeks benefit.
It is only if the man is off for the second time, perhaps years later, that he can get any benefit.
If he stays out of work he gets it.
But the purpose of this is to get a man back into work and for the ordinary man he is docked it and will never see it again.
How is the purpose of the scheme to get a man back into work?
That is the purpose of the whole scheme.
That is the purpose of the whole manpower policy but immediate re-employment cannot be guaranteed unless there is full employment. We must face the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. If a man does not get work then he has to get redundancy payment. He will get it at the other end.
That is true of a worker who is unfortunate enough to remain permanently redundant but, on the assumption that the Government have any hopes of achieving anything with this policy, the normal case would be a man who is redundant for some weeks and who then finds employment elsewhere. The Minister has given no reason for this. We are reasonable in this House and if he has a reason we are prepared to listen to it. What we are not prepared to accept is to be told: "There is no reason why he should not get this money but he is damn well not going to get it."
I suppose the reason for this is that it suits the Civil Service; it cuts down on calculations. The impression that is left with the ordinary worker is that he is docked two weeks pay.
He is not being docked. The benefit is continuing for two weeks longer than if we started paying two weeks earlier.
This is a man who is redundant. He has to pay the rent and he has to pay for groceries and his wife expects money on Friday.
The man will have a redundancy payment and the smallest redundancy payment payable will cover two weeks.
I feel we are entitled to an explanation of the reason for this. We accept the administrative problem; we accept that the Minister may not be able to pay for two weeks but the Minister has given no reason for not paying retrospectively. We have had a very reasonable debate in this House. The Minister has discussed everything freely and given us good reasons for his point of view and it is an extraordinary situation that he will not give us an explanation for his insistence on this and for rejecting amendment No. 52. I think we should be told why he insists that the money must be docked as distinct from the fact that it is necessary to postpone the payment.
A very good debate but too repetitive. The Minister has explained but you will not accept it.
The Minister might change the record and say "yes".
The Minister might put on the record so that we can hear for the first time the reason for all this.
We do not even know what we are differing about. We are left in mid-air.
It is not the Minister's fault if you cannot grasp what he is saying.
The Minister has said nothing about the nonpayment of this sum as Senator Ó Maoláin knows.
Three amendments have now been debated together. The question is for the House to take decisions on the three amendments.
May I make one correction? I said that for unemployment benefit there is a waiting period of a fortnight. The waiting period is not a fortnight, it is three days, but even with the three days there is complaint about it. Here we are saying that no payment is made for the first two weeks and, in the circumstances, I am pressing amendment No. 50.
We should be clear about this. Are all three amendments being pressed or is it amendment No. 50?
I should be glad of your guidance, a Leas-Chathaoirleach, in the matter. What I want to do is to press amendment No. 52 and also on Report Stage to introduce an amendment modifying the word "shall" or the effect of the word "shall" in the first line. I do not want to take a course of action that would preclude me from that. I should like to press amendment No. 52 and to introduce an amendment on Report Stage in regard to the word "shall" in the first line. Is that all right?
It is not possible at this stage to give a decision on a hypothetical amendment for Report Stage but I think it only right to point out that if a decision were made on amendment No. 50 difficulties might arise concerning further amending this particular paragraph on Report Stage.
So that we can come back to the subject and maybe get some modification I shall not press the amendment. By leave of the House, I shall withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 51, by leave, withdrawn.
Without prejudging in any way what would happen on Report Stage, it would now appear to me that a decision on amendment No. 52 would not affect further amendments on Report Stage to the early part of the paragraph in question.
All right. I press amendment No. 52.
Will we have this debate all over again?
The debate will be on amendments which are in order on Report Stage.
Perhaps the simplest thing is for me to withdraw the amendment at this point.
Amendment No. 52, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 53, 54, 55 and 57 might be debated together. Amendment No. 57 would appear to be consequential on amendment No. 54.
Government amendment No. 53:
To delete paragraph 5, page 31, and substitute:
"5. A weekly payment shall not be paid to a person in respect of any period unless during that period that person was not gainfully employed and the fact that he was not so employed could not reasonably be attributed to that person's own failure or refusal to seek or accept gainful employment."
This is to delete paragraph 5 and substitute a new paragraph. The existing paragraph makes eligibility for weekly payments conditional on the person being eligible to receive unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance. Objections have been raised to the existing paragraph on the grounds that, first of all, a person who is in receipt of disability benefit would, under the terms of the paragraph as it stands, appear to be debarred from receiving weekly payments, and a person aggrieved by a decision relating to the cause of his unemployment could not have his appeal on the issue considered by the Appeals Tribunal under this legislation although the matter in dispute could affect his entitlement to redundancy payments. I feel both of these are valid objections and the proposed paragraph meets the points. It is essential to retain the conditions that the weekly payment would be payable in the case of persons out of work through circumstances outside their own control, that is, that the weekly payments would be payable to a person who is either unable to find work which is suitable, or is unable to work through illness, incapacity or injury. The new paragraph provides for these conditions and also provides that a person will be entitled, if agreed, in relation to a decision about qualification in these matters, to go to the appeals machinery under this legislation.
We would be agreeable to the Minister's amendment being adopted with the exception of one small bit. Would the Minister consider taking out the two words "seek or" in the last line of amendment No. 53? This Redundancy Bill is an insurance scheme and the condition to seek employment belongs to the unemployment assistance legislation, not to unemployment benefit and we feel it should be removed. It has no place there. The section is all right, but not to have "seek or".
One situation mentioned to me about this is the case of a man who goes to the employment exchange and is told to go to see an employer who has a job for him. If the worker refuses, that could be interpreted as refusing to seek employment.
Would it be accepted, if he refuses to accept?
If the case I have mentioned could be interpreted as refusing to accept employment you could cut out the words. We would need a lawyer on this. What you want to get rid of is the idea that the employee should be going around looking for work. I see the point. It is really a matter whether the Seanad thinks such a case as I mentioned would be refusing to accept employment.
It would obviously be refusal to accept employment.
I do not think "seek" is necessary in such a case.
If the Minister thinks legal advice should be taken it could be accepted in either form now and adjusted on Report Stage.
I do not accept that a person need go around looking for work. I will take advice as to whether any major loophole will be taken out.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 54 and 55 not moved.
It is suggested that amendments Nos. 56 and 58 be taken together.
Government amendment No. 56:
To delete paragraph 8, page 31, and substitute:
"8. Whenever a person who has received a weekly payment obtains employment he shall not receive any further weekly payments; provided that if he subsequently becomes unemployed, is laid-off, or is absent from work through sickness and is by reason of such absence entitled to disability benefit under the Act of 1952, he shall, subject to paragraph 5, thereupon become eligible for the weekly payments which stood unpaid when he obtained that employment.".
These are necessary to bring the provisions in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Bill into line with the new proposal in the new paragraph 5 about which I have just been talking. Paragraph 5 has been amended in relation to the condition of weekly payments subject to the person concerned being eligible to receive unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance and paragraphs 8 and 9 contain the same condition. These two amendments will bring the provisions of these paragraphs into line with the revised proposals in paragraph 5. There is a further small change being made. The idea is weekly payments to redundant workers who resumed employment exhausts their entitlement to weekly payments, but who would subsequently become idle. Where this occurs because of injury it is to balance a person's weekly payments that he would also be entitled to disability benefit. This is the necessity for a duplicate medical certificate. It is a matter of administration.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 57 not moved.
Amendment No. 58 agreed to.
Amendment No. 59 not moved.
Government amendment No. 60:
In paragraph 13, page 34, line 16, to delete "as a domestic servant".
This has already been debated with amendment No. 8.
Amendment agreed to.
First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Second Schedule agreed to.
I move amendment No. 61:
In paragraph 1 (a), line 11, to delete "one-half of".
The intention is to increase the lump sum indicated here. This would go some way towards meeting the cases referred to already where overtime might be more or less part of an employee's normal wages but cannot be covered in the expression overtime. We feel this would be helpful and I would ask the Minister to consider it.
The amount of the lump sum is in question in Schedule 3 and the amendment put down would have the effect of increasing the amount of the lump sum. I do not think it relates to overtime. I would resist increasing the amount of the lump sum until we have experience of whether the Fund could carry increased amounts. My reading of this amendment is that it would delete one half and so increase the amount of the lump sum.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 62:
In paragraph 5 (a), page 37, line 3, to delete "52" and substitute "78".
It is suggested that amendments Nos. 62 and 63 be discussed together.
This relates to the first division of paragraph 5 of Schedule 3 of the Bill where a worker has been dismissed because of sickness and his employer subsequently, when he has recovered from the illness, takes him back into employment. It provides for continuation in employment during the period of illness so that his continuity will not be broken if the period of sickness does not exceed 52 weeks. In the original draft I fixed this period at 26 weeks and in the Dáil opinions were expressed that I should extend the period. I extended it on Report Stage in the Dáil to 52 weeks. Deputy Larkin in the Dáil was very strongly of the opinion that I had not gone far enough and I promised at that stage to consider it before coming to the Seanad. The present amendment is intended to increase the period from 12 months, 52 weeks, to 18 months.
I have great sympathy with workers who are unable through illness to continue in their employment. I do not think we can reasonably be expected to take the matter further. The paragraph is intended to deal with the situation of not keeping the worker in employment. This is a matter the employer can deal with at once and when the situation arises where an employer says: "you are sick so long I cannot take you back and the continuity of your employment is broken and your previous credits are gone." Eighteen months is as far as I can go. I started off with six months, then went to 12 and 18 is as far as I can go.
I thank the Minister for the improvement. Let us be clear about this. There is no cost involved in this.
It is simply to deal with people who have been out ill for long periods, to maintain their rights in regard to redundancy payments. Of course, such a person does not get anything, but simply because he is out ill he does not lose his continuity. The Minister said he cannot carry the period for more than 18 months.
If a man is ill for a week an employer might dismiss him for sickness. If he is ill for two months or six months the employer might dismiss him and not take him back any more. But an employer might say: "This is a good man; I will take him back." The effect of this section is to ensure that through that illness the man does not lose his continuity for the purpose of the scheme. I consider 18 months to be a reasonable time. If you press the employer further you might tempt him to dismiss the worker altogether. What I have tried to do is get a fair period which would give a worker a long time of illness and, at the same time, if the worker were dismissed and taken back, would not break his continuity. If we went any further we might be tempting employers to dismiss such workers altogether.
I do not think so. We have got established in recent years a sort of situation, in respect of TB particularly, through which it is realised that a long period of sickness should be allowed by an employer. I know this obtains in many semi-State employments. The period of two years has been provided, especially in respect of TB. What I am concerned about is that a person like that is not being dismissed. He is out sick and it is essential that the period of sick leave allowed should be as long as possible in order that the worker might recover. That is why I fixed on a period of two years. We do not compel the employer to keep him on.
A worker could be out sick for many years and if the employer does not dismiss him he does not break continuity. This arises only in the case of an employer dismissing and reemploying. We are not allowing an employer to do this until the illness has lasted for more than 18 months.
The schedule refers to an employee's period of service being interrupted "by any of the following", and gives a list——
I am trying to catch the employer who dismisses an employee and takes him back but at the same time uses the illness to break the continuity of service for the purpose of this legislation. Any employer is entitled to dismiss an employee. I did this in three stages. I started with six months, went to 12 months and now I have raised it to 18 months.
The Minister might as well make it 24 months.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 not moved.
I move amendment No. 65:
To delete paragraph 5 (b) (iv), page 37, and substitute a new sub-paragraph as follows:
"(c) any period by reason of any cause (other than the voluntary leaving of this employment by the employee) not mentioned in clauses (i) to (iii) of (b) but authorised by the employer."
What I am trying to deal with here is the case of an employee who can be given leave, authorised by the employer. In subparagraph (b) of the schedule we seem to be limiting the period to 26 weeks. The schedule states "for any cause other than the voluntary leaving of employment by the employee authorised by the employer". That is not covered by the 26 weeks provision at the beginning. It would mean that if an employer is so generous as to give authorised leave it would not effect a break in the employee's cover or entitlement to redundancy payment. The Minister may ask where this would happen. I hope it happens more frequently than heretofore—that employees will be allowed to attend educational courses, perhaps university courses. Here the Minister is imposing a limit of six months. I do not think that is desirable. If an employer wants to give longer leave than six months, for the reasons I have mentioned, he should be allowed to do so.
I do not think the Senator is clear on this. If a man is away studying, he does not break his continuity of service. He must be dismissed to break continuity. Therefore, a man sent away by his employer on a study course would not be regarded as having gone out of that employment. The effect of the amendment would be that if an employee were dismissed and went off working in some other position for an indefinite period, he might be taken back by the first employer, and qualify later for redundancy payment on the grounds of previous service with that employer. I set out to arrange that temporary absence would not break continuity of employment even though notice of dismissal was given. There must be some limit as to what constitutes temporary absence.
This is where an employer agrees with it.
This is interrupted service. Dismissal is not mentioned in it.
The Minister is puzzling me. The paragraph in the schedule begins: "Where an employee's period of service has been interrupted. . . " and at the end it says: "continuity of employment shall not be broken by such interruption even though notice of termination of the contract of employment has been given".
If the Senator takes the two together with paragraph 4, he will find that employment shall be taken to be continuous unless terminated by dismissal or by the employee voluntarily leaving the employment. That is absolute. Dismissal comes into paragraph 5. Subsection (4) makes it absolutely clear that you do not break the continuity of service except by dismissal.
Or by the employee voluntarily leaving the employment. We are now talking of cases where the employee voluntarily leaves the service of the employer.
We are talking about paragraph 4.
It is "other than the leaving."
It is written in there. It says "any cause other than the voluntary leaving." If you take the two paragraphs together the thing is perfectly clear.
Surely you are limiting to 26 weeks the period in which the employee can voluntarily interrupt his service.
The employer would not dismiss him at all.
This is the period during which he is away, authorised by his employer. Why should the employer be placed in the position that he has to do this within this 26 weeks?
The employer is not limited. It is only if he terminates the contract that he is limited.
Why should the employer be put in the position that after authorising the employee's departure for longer than six months, perhaps on some educational course, he must dismiss him within this period? The continuity of employment is broken by the dismissal. The man has been dismissed.
The employer could say to the man that he should go off on the course and that he would dismiss him for the time he is gone and take him back afterwards.
The whole purpose of the amendment is to get away from the limit of the 26 weeks. The position is that under this section as it stands if a man goes on a course, authorised by the employer, for nine months, when six months are up the employer is then in the position to terminate his employment.
He could terminate his employment before he went away. The understanding of this depends on understanding the devices of an employer firing a man and taking him back again. The employer can fire the man and take him back at the end of his period away. He has lost the credits which he has built up to protect him.
I understand that but why limit it to 26 weeks in respect of employment? There should be no limit on the period. Why include this period at all? The Minister should accept the amendment which takes this clause out.
We have to try to get a figure.
The employer does not authorise a man to be ill.
The point is that the employer can dismiss the man while he is out. He can let him go away for a long period, take him back again and nothing happens. It is only if the employer wants to say: "You have been away six months and I will dismiss you." This is only to catch the tricky type of employer.
Why should the employer be able to dismiss him after six months?
If a man is away for more than 26 weeks you have to have a balance.
We are referring to cases in which the departure is authorised by the employer. When the employer authorises the man's departure surely he should not be dismissed and have his service broken. Subsection (4) should not come within the 26 weeks limit. I think Senator Murphy is right.
The cases in subsection (4) are cases which we have not specified.
I think we have a point here and that the Minister should have another look at it.
Paragraph 4 was brought in to cover situations arising which we had not visualised. We visualised sickness, laying-off, holidays, service with the Defence Forces and we also want to cover any other situation.
Perhaps the Minister would look at this between now and Report Stage.
I think in regard to service in the Defence Forces that the 26 weeks might not be adequate. Suppose there was an emergency and a number of people were called up. They might be serving for a year or longer and tricky employers could dismiss them in the meantime and get out of their obligations in regard to redundancy payments.
It is a matter of balance. All he can do is dismiss him and let him into the Army and never take him back.
In the circumstances of an emergency most employers would not want to incur the odium of that. The employer might well dismiss him but get him back in order to get out of the lump sum.
The Minister should have another look at this. Senator Yeats' point should also be considered.
I will have a look at it. There could be circumstances in which there would be collusion between the man and the employer, where the employee could go away, get another job, come back and say: "You declare me redundant and I will get this lump sum and settle with you". I do not have to spell out the circumstances.
You will have to spell them out.
Once the Seanad know the possibility of those type of things they will understand my silence.
Is the amendment being withdrawn?
Yes, on the understanding that the Minister will have a look at this matter.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The Chair suggests that amendments Nos. 66, 67 and 68 may be discussed together.
Government amendment No. 66:
In paragraph 5, page 37, to add a new subparagraph as follows:
"(c) any period during which an employee was absent from work because of a lock-out by his employer or because the employee was participating in a strike, whether such absence occurred before or after the commencement of this Act,"
Those three amendments are intended to correct a weakness in the drafting in relation to my intention that absences from work because of a lock-out, or because the employee was participating in a strike, should not break continuity of service. The existing paragraph 7 of Schedule 3 deals with the intention in relation to lock-outs or strikes which occurred prior to the commencement date of the Act, while paragraph 8 of the same Schedule is concerned with the position after the commencement date.
As at present drafted, however, these two paragraphs might not, I understand, meet my intentions in a case where the employees were actually dismissed while on strike but were subsequently taken back into their employment. To meet the difficulty, it is proposed to delete altogether paragraphs 7 and 8, amendment No. 68, and to amend paragraph 5 of the Schedule in accordance with the terms of amendments Nos. 66 and 67. If these three amendments are accepted, I am advised that my intention that lock-outs or strikes will not break continuity of employment will be fully met.
There is, of course, no change of intention involved in these three amendments. They are really only drafting amendments designed to clear up a doubt concerning the adequacy of existing provisions.
What would be the position in relation to an unofficial strike?
There is no distinction in the strikes.
So you recognise unofficial strikes?
At the end of a long Bill the Senator comes in with his mischief. I do not recognise unofficial strikes but I do not think redundancy legislation should be used to deal with strikes. Everybody deplores unofficial strikes.
Will the provisions of the Bill relate to people on unofficial strike?
Is the Senator suggesting using this to punish those who go on unofficial strikes? I do not think redundancy legislation should be used in that way.
You are recognising them?
Once we are clear that they are being recognised.
They do happen. They are not approved.
They are not recognised by trade unions.
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 67:
In paragraph 5, page 37, line 15, to delete "even though" and substitute "whether or not".
Amendment agreed to.
Government amendment No. 68:
In page 37, to delete paragraphs 7 and 8.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 69:
In paragraph 12, page 38, line 5, to delete "a" and substitute "an unofficial".
We are back again to the unofficial strikes. I thought it might be worth suggesting that in this case we are, in fact, disallowing as reckonable service a period when an employee is on strike and there is something to be said for making a distinction here which would operate as a deterrent against unofficial strikes. I would be hesitant about taking too stringent measures against unofficial strikes because there are cases where they are the only remedy people have if their grievances are not, in their view, being adequately looked after by a trade union. Not all unofficial strikes are to be condemned, although certainly one wants to minimise them because of their disruptive effects. At least by accepting this amendment there would be a distinction here. If a person were on an official strike he would not lose his service but if he were on an unofficial strike he would. This might be a useful deterrent in regard to strikes but in the light of what the Minister said a few minutes ago I have a feeling he will say no.
I disapprove of unofficial strikes. The trade unions disapprove of them and so does industry. There was a committee some years ago which carried out research in this matter and there is a report giving clear indications of everybody's opinion of unofficial strikes. However, they do happen and if you make legislation which says: "I recognise that now and again we get unofficial strikes" that does not mean we approve of them. The argument I made stands. I do not think we should use this legislation to penalise people who go on unofficial strike.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 70, 71, and 72 may be discussed together with separate decisions if necessary.
I move amendment No. 70:
In paragraph 15, page 38, lines 22 and 23, to delete "but excluding overtime premium".
I do not think we should approach this problem of redundancy as if it were something completely new about which previously we knew nothing. Of course, in various employments compensation agreements are operated and it is usual and perfectly sensible to have regard to the amount of overtime attaching to a particular job when the amount of compensation which should be paid for loss of that job is being decided. It is usual to approach this by way of what is normal to that particular job. They usually approach it by counting emoluments, bonuses, allowances, overtime, et cetera, which are of a recurring nature, as being part of the job. If the overtime is of a recurring nature it would be regarded as part of the income that worker would normally expect from that job. I am not speaking now of a particular rush of overtime. A man may work a lot of overtime one week but it would not be a normal feature of that job and I would accept that in such circumstances it should not form part of the content of the compensation for redundancy. However, where overtime is a recognised feature of a job as it is in many employments, for example, in transport where people operate buses say, between here and Galway, the overtime would be a normal feature of that employment. It would not be something exceptional. It would be something that person on that job would expect to receive every week and he would be expected to work that overtime. That would be an attachment to that job.
You have that overtime; you are required to work the overtime and you are paid for it. It is the same on the railway side. For example, a guard operating a certain train assigned to a particular run might find that overtime is attached to that run week after week. It is a normal feature of his work. These are examples which I am sure obtain in many employments. People accept employment in a particular job and their acceptance is coloured by the amount of overtime attaching to that job. We might as well face it that that is a fact of life. It is reasonable when you attempt to provide compensation for loss of that employment by way of redundancy pay to have regard to the overtime which is normally part of that job in determining the amount of compensation for redundancy. It would be quite wrong to have regard only to the basic pay when the basic pay in a particular job does not provide the great amount of the man's weekly payment. This is why I am objecting to the provisions which exclude from compensation for redundancy overtime which might be worked by an employee.
I may confess that I am not happy with my own amendment by simply deleting the time as such altogether. It might be more feasible to approach it by making provision for what is normally recurring overtime. It would be reasonable to accept that a man in the last week of employment worked quite an unreasonable amount of overtime and that that would be the determining factor for his redundancy payment. Certainly where it is a normal feature of his job and he is losing that job, then it should be taken into account in arriving at redundancy compensation. This is what has happened in every redundancy compensation case for any particular employment. I do not think we should leave that. Perhaps the amendment I put down is clumsy and sweeping but the principle is what I am concerned about and I should like the Minister to have a look at it.
I think Senator Murphy is being very modest about his amendment although I think my own is better, naturally enough. The governing clause is normal weekly remuneration; that is, normal weekly hours worked. The problem he poses against his own amendment about a person working more before redundancy does not occur. The phraseology the Minister employs is good in that it takes the amount of payment for normal weekly hours worked. If he leaves it at that we would be happy but, if he excludes payments which are part of the remuneration of the normal weekly working hours simply because they are technically overtime, it is wrong. If the Minister is prepared to pay he is prepared to pay for the normal working week. He has avoided that phraseology and has applied the principle that a person should be compensated for his normal weekly working hours. Having done that, he then takes it away by saying in regard to this man who is doing this normal working week which he does year in year out, that because technically they happen to be hours of overtime, which are regarded by trade unions as part of his work, they are excluded. This I think is wrong. The Minister has covered the situation perfectly by using the phrase "normal weekly working hours." My amendment would perfectly cover the situation.
I do not accept that the Minister should include normally worked overtime in addition to the standard weekly work and then take it away.
It is assumed that the weekly payments should be related to the weekly pay a person can be expected to receive in normal circumstances and this would not be circumstances which would involve overtime. There are circumstances in which people are required to do overtime. I am advised that where people are obliged by their contract to work overtime they are covered by amendment 70 rather than by amendment 71. In the case of people who are required by their contract of employment to work overtime, rather than people who may work overtime, it can be regarded as part of their normal weekly work.
This is a very tricky point. I must confess I have argued with both sides, as trade union officials sometimes do. We talk of overtime and compensation and say they are normal features and that, therefore, a person is expected to work overtime and that it should enter into his compensation. Equally, if you are involved in an industrial dispute and you do not want to call everybody out on strike you say: "We are banning overtime." It equally provides for the payment of overtime but it does not say that overtime is required to be worked.
I would not bring it that far. The overtime that I speak of is a regular part of his week's work. There are circumstances, of course, where overtime would be available and the worker could take it or not. If it is part of his regular and normal week's income, it is another matter.
We are in agreement as to what should be covered; how can we deal with it?
The Minister has introduced another aspect into this—that overtime is required to be worked where overtime is normally worked. Normal weekly working hours are to be interpreted as the hours a person works, week in, week out, and to get into technicalities would be unwise.
If you knock out "but excluding overtime"?
Yes, but I thought my amendment was clearer and more specific; but if the Minister accepts that I am happy. I want to make it clear that overtime would be counted where it would be included in the normal weekly work. It might be misinterpreted as the standard working week. I prefer my amendment to that of Senator Murphy.
I think we are in agreement as to what we want to do.
The Minister could have a look at this——
By striking out the words I mentioned you have it.
Provided the Minister is satisfied that the legal position is not ambiguous.
Perhaps we could strike out the words and the Minister could have it examined further between now and Report Stage and if there is any complication we can come back to it.
Paragraph 17 refers to this. It refers to normal weekly working hours. It reads:
Where an employee receives additional remuneration for working more than a fixed number of hours, that fixed number of hours shall, for the purposes of paragraphs 15 and 16 (ii), be taken to be his normal weekly working hours, unless by his contract of employment he is required to work for more than that fixed number of hours, and in the last mentioned case the higher number of hours required by the contract shall be taken to be his normal weekly working hours.
If the Minister wishes, we could delete that paragraph too.
Maybe I should not have said anything. My intention is to cover a person who normally must work overtime hours in his working week. I will see about it between now and Report Stage.
We shall see how the Minister deals with it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 71 and 72 not moved.
I move amendment No. 73:
To add to the Schedule a new paragraph as follows:
"During the year 1968 paragraph 5 (b) of the Schedule shall have effect as if ‘52 consecutive weeks' were substituted for ‘26 consecutive weeks'."
Paragraph 5 gives a total of 26 weeks to save the continuity of service, among other things, where lay-offs are concerned. The amendment proposes a transitional arrangement which we should like to have inserted in the schedule so that employers would not be avoiding their liabilities by delaying for a few weeks taking their men back. It is also aimed at protecting workers who might be asked by their employers not to come back, the excuse being that the weather is bad or something of the sort. We want the period changed from 26 weeks to 52 weeks to cover cases like that during the first year of the operation of the Act.
To cover a particular class of employee during the first year?
We shall start from scratch on 1st January.
This relates to seasonal employees?
Not necessarily. Workers in the building trade would be affected. Any worker could become affected if his employer thought he could avoid liability by extending the person works, week in, week out, and off. This is merely aimed at preserving continuity.
This would be inserted as an additional subparagraph to paragraph 5?
Wherever it is appropriate.
The amendment could read something like this:
During 1968, subparagraph (1b) of this subparagraph shall have effect as if 52 consecutive weeks were substituted.
If the House agrees to take it in that way, we can accept it.
It would be tidier if the amendment were now withdrawn and brought in again on Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Third Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report and subsequent Stages on Wednesday, 6th December, 1967.
We should like, if possible, to get all Stages next week because the Bill must go back to the Dáil and be ready for 1st January.
What concerns me is that we seem to have got into a bad practice of not getting the reports of the Seanad proceedings until nearly a week after the sittings. This cropped up some years ago when there was a printing dispute about overtime and we seem to have gone back to the practice of not getting the reports until several days after the sitting. We now get the Dáil Report for Thursday before we get the Seanad Report for Wednesday. I do not think we should be in the invidious position of facing the Report Stage of a Bill without having the report of the proceedings on Committee Stage. I ask you to make arrangements to let Senators have copies of the Report in sufficient time before Report Stage.
The concern of the Seanad in the matter of the reports will be conveyed.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 6th December, 1967.