A group of 27 low income cleaners who work for the South Dublin County Council were delighted yesterday, Thursday 20th March 2014, when they were successful in their fight to keep their ‘Working In The Rain’ allowance which works out at approximately €50 per week per employee.
The Labour Court ruling was in response to attempts by South Dublin County Council to abolish the allowance. Brendan O’Brien of SIPTU described the ruling as a ‘significant victory’ as the outcome has been hanging over the workers involved for an extended period of time. The workers, who perform street and park cleaning duties for the Council, are paid between €400 and €500 on average per week so the ‘Working In The Rain’ allowance amounts to approximately 10% of their income each week.
The cost of the ‘Working In The Rain’ allowance to the Council is approximately €75,000 per year and the Council claimed that this payment is outdated because all of the employees now have the benefit of protective clothing to ensure they can carry out their duties safely – irrespective of the external weather conditions. The Council claimed that the group of 27 workers affected by this ruling are currently part of a larger group of approximately 140 workers who are all required to work in rainy weather conditions (unless it is unsafe to do so).
SIPTU argued that the payment is pensionable and, consequently, to cease paying the allowance would breach the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement.
The dispute, which could not be resolved at local level, was the subject of a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission and, when no agreement was reached there the dispute between the workers and the Council was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
The Labour Court ruled that the Claimants (the workers) are entitled to retain the allowance on a personal to holder basis.