INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NATIONAL MATERNITY HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Compensation for disturbance.
2. In 1995 the Hospital carried out structural alterations in Unit 8 Intensive Care Unit as part of its five-year refurbishment plan. The Union is claiming compensation for disturbance on behalf of eleven household staff, on the grounds that noise levels were excessive due to the use of kango hammer drills over a period of one week. The Hospital contends that the work was necessary, that all reasonable precautions were taken and that further construction work will be carried out. It claims that the payment of compensation in this case would set a precedent throughout the health service and would impede future development.
The claim was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on 7th May, 1996 at which the Union claimed two extra days' annual leave. This was rejected by the Hospital and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 14th November, 1996 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on 4th February, 1997, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. Kango hammer drills were used continuously for eleven hours per day for one week. The noise level was excessive but management refused the workers' request for ear protection. Health and Safety Authority inspectors had to order additional boarding to tone down the noise levels.
2. Additional dust and sand which were generated by the construction work had to be cleaned up three to four times per day. Staff also had to work at temporary locations. Despite the inconvenience and the additional work involved the staff concerned provided a service above and beyond their normal duties.
4. 1. The construction work is a necessary, ongoing process which will benefit all staff and patients of the hospital. Every effort has been made to minimise its impact and all reasonable precautions relating to health and safety have been taken.
2. The Union's claim is cost increasing and is therefore precluded under the terms of the PCW. Any concession of the claim could have knock-on effects within the hospital as other grades of staff were affected by the disturbance. The Department of Health is also opposed to the claim as many other hospitals throughout the country have similar refurbishment programmes.
The Court, having considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties, does not recommend payment of compensation in this case.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
21st February, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.