The NIC, in keeping with good management practice, conducted a reclassification exercise which was completed last year, the aim of which was to upgrade its job classification plan.
Job classification is the process whereby jobs are placed in a rank order according to stated criteria and provides a basis for a fair and orderly grading structure.
While the NIC is aware that reclassification is a management right and not that of a union, in a true spirit of partnership, it engaged the union throughout the process – providing it the opportunity to comment on the Terms of Reference, the consultant selected (who in turn engaged the union in the consultation process), and the reclassification report. The feedback from the union was incorporated into the final report approved by the NIC board of directors.
As the NIC prepares to implement the reclassification exercise, the union has continued to disregard the rights of management as contained in the collective agreement between the parties. At this late stage, the union is seeking to introduce non-compensable factors, such as “length of service”, which is not considered in a reclassification exercise.
In June, an agreement to end the impasse was reached at the office of the Labour Commissioner which the union reneged on a few days later, demanding that NIC issue the private and personal information of staff without the written permission of the staff.
To accede to this demand would be a violation of the NIC’s responsibility as regards confidentiality of staff information and would set an undesirable precedent, with respect to confidentiality of employment records and data protection.
The NIC’s position is that authorization should be given by an employee, before employment records considered to be confidential data, can be disclosed to a third party. An offer by the NIC on June 11 to provide any information the union required if the staff provide written consent was rejected by the union. The offer was repeated on July 18, and was again rejected by the union.
NIC has always treated its workers fairly and the Consultant’s report clearly identified NIC as a market leader on compensation locally and among the national insurance bodies throughout the region, with respect to the bargaining unit.
NIC respects the rights of the Union to bargain collectively on behalf of the staff in the bargaining unit and to represent the staff when aggrieved. However the NIC cannot allow the NWU to compromise management’s right in respect of the NIC’s workforce or to violate its duty to safeguard the private and personal information of its staff.