INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
1. Claim for the introduction of a career development programme for non-nursing personnel.
2. The dispute before the Court concerns the Union's claim for the introduction of a career development programme for approximately 4,000 workers employed by the Hospitals in non-nursing posts.
In early 1992, the Union negotiated the introduction of a career development programme for workers employed in similar employment with Beaumont Hospital. In late 1992 it served a similar claim on the Mater Hospital. The Hospital rejected the claim indicating that the matter had national implications and that it had been forwarded to the Department of Health for its observations.
Since early 1994 the Union has made a number of unsuccessful attempts to progress the matter with representatives of the voluntary Hospitals through the Labour Relations Commission. The Union claims that the employers failure to deal with the claim left it with no option but to refer the claim to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Union agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Labour Court hearing took place on 2nd August, 1996.
3. 1. The employers have shown total disregard to the relevant clauses of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. Under Annex 1 to Appendix A of the PESP, Clause 2 states:-
"On the ratification of the Agreement on Pay and Conditions,
discussions will commence in the various areas of the Public
Service and in accordance with agreed negotiation procedures,
with a view to implementing the terms of Clause 3 of the Agreement
in a way which will:-
enable a meaningful response to be made to staff
aspirations for more fulfilling work and improved
create an organisational climate conducive to
better job satisfaction, motivation and commitment
provide management with the flexibility necessary
to apply staff and other resources in the most cost
effective way so as to respond to the demands being
or likely to be made on the Public Service."
2. The claim seeks to enhance in a limited manner the career paths of the workers concerned. The agreement with Beaumont Hospital has shown that non-nursing personnel can develop beyond the limited scope of their current posts with the assistance and support of their employers.
3. The claim was raised through the normal negotiating channels. The employers have attempted to frustrate the Union at all levels because of their unwillingness to accept that non-nursing personnel should have the opportunity to develop their careers.
VOLUNTARY HOSPITALS' ARGUMENTS:
4. 1. The document which forms the basis of this claim was negotiated between SIPTU and Beaumont Hospital. The Hospitals are diverse in terms of their size, staffing levels, and the range and nature of service which they provide to their patients. As such, the imposition of a blanket provision in the form of a centralised and rigid policy would be totally inappropriate and would serve only to render the scheme virtually impossible to implement effectively. The scheme can only be successful if each Hospital is allowed the flexibility to tailor the programme to meet its own individual set of circumstances.
2. The draft document states that the duration of the traineeship is 6 months commencing in September and rolling over into the following March. Moreover, it states that 'each successful applicant will be offered a 6 month placement and will normally revert back to their original post at the conclusion of the programme'. The availability of a trainee post in any of the Hospitals would be solely dependent on a vacancy being available. A new post cannot be created due to the inability to secure the necessary funding. Management would be opposed to the designation of a trainee post on an on-going basis.
3. The voluntary Hospitals do not hold a principled objection to the introduction of a career development programme for non-nursing personnel provided that there is no additional costs involved in introducing the Programme. However, there is universal opinion that the programme in its present guise, cannot be implemented successfully in all Dublin Voluntary Hospitals due to the wide and diverse nature of the Hospitals. For the Programme to be successful, it should be agreed voluntarily at local level.
The Court considers it a matter of regret that the Union had to pursue this claim under Section 20(1) of the 1969 Act.
The Court recommends that the parties agree to immediately enter into negotiations in each individual Hospital with the objective of reaching agreement on the introduction of a career development programme for the categories referred to in the submissions.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th August, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.