After a long period of waiting, we were finally invited to meet with the Permanent Position Committee to have our requirements assessed, but unfortunately it did not turn out as we had hoped for.
Explanation follows below.
The Permanent Position Committee does not have a mandate to alter the salary classification for a position group which is already stipulated in the Collective Agreement. This may only be done at a main settlement. So, if we were to obtain anything done in our case, we would have to try to convince the Committee that the qualification requirements for Hydraulics in MDN are so far above what is normally required for the position that it qualifies for a whole new job title in a higher wage group.
There is another Local Branch that has previously presented the same issue as we are doing by naming the most experienced of their Hydraulics as Senior Hydraulics, but the Permanent Position Committee decided at the time that the Senior Hydraulics should also be placed in Wage Group B.
This was not particularly any benefit to our case, but we promoted all our best arguments (which were already submitted and well documented) in an attempt at convincing the Committee that the job the Hydraulics in MDN is doing is at a far higher level than what is normally expected of a Hydraulic Engineer with a professional certificate. So, that they should not be considered as ordinary Hydraulics, but consequently should be promoted into a completely new and higher paid position.
We naturally put great emphasis on our strongest arguments, such as the development of technology on the new rigs, the equivalent cooperation with technical personnel in higher wage groups (and the injustice thereof). The fact that the Hydraulics stand alone on board with their special skills which is not part of the regular Hydraulic training, the work with safety-related equipment and hence the great responsibility attached to the position. Here we referred to all the specialized offshore equipment for pipe handling on the drilling floor, personal lifting equipment, cranes, lifeboats and advanced BOP systems where faults may cause fatal consequences. Work tasks where the Hydraulics are responsible for both repair and testing. All this and much more was presented at the meeting.
In any case, the Committee did not accept our argumentation and the following was stated in the minutes:
The Committee referred to their mandate and stated they may not decide on changing wage placement of already classified positions in the Collective Agreement. If the employee side believes that Hydraulic positions in Maersk have been assigned work tasks beyond what normally belongs to the Hydraulic position/in reality is a new position, which eventually in turn needs to be documented.
The position as Hydraulics in Maersk is paid in Wage group B.
During the meeting, it was also referred to that the Hydraulics already are in a higher Wage group than the Mechanics in Wage group C, and that they are placed together with, for example, the Engine Room responsible in Wage group B, and that no account is taken of MDN having established their own and new types of positions in the Technical Department, which in turn are classified in higher Wage groups.
The company also found no basis for establishing a new type of position for the Hydraulics in MDN. We therefore requested a written justification, which we presently have now received.
Read the full answer from the company here:
This is an issue that has been discussed between the company and MAF for a long time. MAF chose to forward the case to the Permanent Position Committee after not being supported by the company in internal deliberations. It was claimed by MAF that position as Hydraulic Engineer should be promoted into the Wage group based on what is considered as increased responsibility and extended requirements for qualifications and competence due to more advanced equipment on board the rigs.
The company believes that changes in a Wage group for positions that have already been established in the Collective Agreement belong in negotiations at the main settlements and cannot, or should not, be changed locally. As we see it, the scope of responsibility was primarily changed when the position was changed from Drilling Deck Mechanic (Wage group D) to Hydraulics and further was transferred from the Drilling Department to Technical Department. We also believe that equipment is developed over time in the industry in general, and that this does not provide a basis for other wage placement in MDN in particularly. The same applies to other companies encompassed by the same Collective Agreement.
Formal qualification requirements regarding education have not been altered. Upgrading of competencies are implemented by the company based on new equipment. It is not considered to be a basis for a change in wage placement in the wage matrix, as this is also regarded to be something of a general nature for the most majority of positions.
The way the company sees this, there is no reason to make changes regarding the placement of the position, just as the Permanent Position Committee also concluded.
The company also does not consider that there is any basis for a Competence Supplement pursuant to the Collective Agreement 4.2.3. This is defined as a supplement to additional competence beyond what the position actually requires, and as argued above, we do not see that additional requirements have been set for this position or individuals who hold the position.
What the company states in their answer does not come as a surprise to us as we have tried several times to solve the matter in local deliberations, but we wanted an official answer to be able to document what we are up against.
Otherwise, both the company and the Permanent Position Committee believe that the case belongs as part of the main settlement, but we all know how difficult a case this is when we have to convince a majority among the other local branches about the importance of moving the Hydraulics up in the wage group when all the other local branches still have their Mechanics in Wage group C, and thus have completely different claims and intentions about who should be promoted in the Wage Matrix.
It is just otherwise at MDN, where new kinds of positions in the Technical Department have resulted in higher rankings in salaries. It is of course good for those in the positions that have been changed and are put in a higher wage group, but it also causes a great deal of dissatisfaction, especially for the Hydraulics, who are thus ranked lower than the positions with which they are normally compared.
The case is not over with this result, but if we are to return to the Permanent Position Committee, then a completely new kind of position must first be established for the Hydraulics, which the company presently does not find a basis for, and if they are to be convinced, then clearly much stronger and completely different arguments must be brought to the table.
It is also important to mention that even if we locally were to agree on a new type of Hydraulic position, the Permanent Position Committee will in any case be able to decide that this new position must remain in Wage group B, just as it happened for the other local branch which established a position as Senior Hydraulic.
This issue is just not as straightforward as anyone may imagine. The board of MAF has for many years agreed to give this issue high priority, and we do everything we can do with the opportunities we have. This was another annoying bump in the road, and clearly unfortunately not the last.