INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS IN IRELAND
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
IRISH HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS ASSOCIATION
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Re-hearing arising from Labour Court Recommendation No. 14867.
2. The Union's claim, on behalf of Associate Professors and Senior Lecturers, for parity with other medical schools was the subject of a Labour Court investigation and recommendation in August 1995. In LCR14867 the Court recommended as follows:
"Whilst it does not concede the claim for parity with other medical schools the Court, given the clinical and academic requirements of the claimants, does not find it unreasonable to expect that they should enjoy benefits comparable to their colleagues in other medical schools.
The Court fully recognises that the College is a private institution, and is operating under financial constraints.
However, it is the view of the Court that if the present high standards and the goodwill of the staff are to be maintained, this issue needs to be meaningfully addressed.
Accordingly the Court recommends that the Management and the Association discuss the matter further and seek to put in place acceptable arrangements to resolve the issue".
Subsequently the parties engaged in discussions but agreement could not be reached on acceptable arrangements. On the 26th February, 1997 the Union requested a further
Labour Court hearing to assist in resolving the issues in dispute. The RCSI was in agreement with this request. The Court investigated the dispute on the 19th June, 1997.
3. 1. At present the Associate Professors and Senior Lecturers are paid approximately £20,000 and £10,000 per annum less than their counterparts yet the method of their appointment is identical in each and every way to the other medical schools and their associated hospitals (details to the Court). This protocol does not vary due to the fact that the RCSI is a private institution.
2. The RCSI contends that it has limited finances yet an adjoining premises was recently purchased at a cost of £5m which will improve facilities and generate income. This is welcomed and essential. However, it is the doctors in their key role as lecturers, tutors and guardians of standards who carry the greatest responsibility for the quality of the results and therefore for the continued existence of the College and its reputation. The RCSI policy of paying less must eventually rebound, to its disadvantage, when recruiting academic consultants.
3. The appointments are not made at the sole discretion of the RCSI, but in accordance with the rates and regulations set down by the Department of Health, Comhairle na nOispead�il and the co-operation of publicly funded hospitals. In accepting the rates and regulations for appointment to their posts the Union would contend that the RCSI is similarly accepting the salaries that attach thereto.
4. If the RCSI wishes to have private practice restrictions placed on the claimants on a par with those applying in UCD/TCD the Union is willing to accept such a proposal.
5. The disadvantageous position of the claimants will be further exacerbated following the publication of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector and the subsequent Review Body Report in 1997.
6. The claimants feel particularly aggrieved because it is their policy not to take industrial action of any sort. There are also serious pension implications because the claimants' pensions and those of comparators are based on relevant salaries.
7. The claim has existed since June, 1991 and retrospection is sought to that date in respect of some consultants and pro rata for claimants appointed since that date.
4. 1. The academic stipend sought by the Union for each individual would cost £110,000 plus pension costs.
2. The Union's claim that the comparable posts are identical to RCSI posts is not correct. There are a number of differences, most significantly, the RCSI funds 2 academic sessions (out of 11) for its Professors/Head of Departments but funds up to 6 academic sessions in the cases of Senior Lecturers and Assistant Professors. It would be inappropriate to fund an academic stipend on top of paying for such a large element of academic time. It would also make some of these posts disproportionately expensive.
3. The Union maintains that a Department of Health document has stated all academic/consultant posts structured by Comhairle na nOispead�il should receive the same standard salary (11 sessions plus an academic stipend). However the Department has confirmed that this stipulation applies only to those posts nominated to the Department by Medical Schools. The RCSI has nominated its Professor/Head of Department posts only. Contracts incorporating the RCSI salary have been accepted and signed by the claimants.
4. The RCSI has offered to pay the academic stipend less the number of academic sessions it paid, over the standard of two (i.e. in the case of the two Associate Professors, the RCSI pays three academic sessions). Two are considered the 'norm'. RCSI will pay the academic stipend (i.e. £20,000) less one session (i.e. £5,000) - a net stipend of £15,000. The situation of Senior Lecturers varies, but overall this results in the College conceding, in money terms, approximately 50% of the amount claimed by the I.H.C.A.
5. The cost of conceding the claim in full is prohibitive. The claimants are seeking the full payment of a claim that has already been rejected by the Court.
6. While it is regrettable that the claimants do not have the same total salary as some of their colleagues, it must be recognised that there are many anomalies in remuneration of academic/medical posts. The claimants are not restricted in any way by the College in their private practice earnings. The College's offer (in effect going 'half way') is fair and reasonable.
The Court has considered in detail the various written and oral points submitted by the parties.
At a previous Labour Court hearing the Court accepted the different status of R.C.S.I. and the comparator colleges as justification for not conceding the parity of terms. Nonetheless it did consider that the similarity of employment terms justified negotiations of comparable benefits for both sets of employees.
The Court recommends that the proposals submitted by the Employers to the IHCA should be implemented as a first step, retrospective to June 1st 1997. Over the course of the next 12 months the Employers should seek the means of increasing the payment terms (making due allowance for any other distinct equivalent monetary benefits deriving from the RCSI conditions of employment) to achieve fully comparable overall benefits for their employees with their colleagues in other colleges, to be applied by 1st June, 1998.
Failing agreement the Court will recommend detailed terms and conditions to apply from 1st June, 1998.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.