INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ST VINCENT'S HOSPITAL, FAIRVIEW
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Revision of pension scheme.
2. The dispute concerns a claim by the Union on behalf of Psychiatric Nurses employed by the hospital. The Union is seeking an improvement in their Pension Scheme to bring it into line with the Pension Scheme for Psychiatric Nurses employed by the Health Boards. The claim is being made under Clause 4 of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW).
St. Vincent's Hospital, Fairview is a voluntary psychiatric hospital. In 1980, the Department of Health commenced direct funding of the hospital. As a consequence, the hospital became eligible for participation in the Voluntary Hospitals Superannuation Scheme (VHSS). The existing eligible staff were given the option of joining the scheme. However, it was made compulsory for those staff appointed after that date.
The VHSS is a standard public service pension scheme in terms of maximum benefits being payable subject to a minimum service requirement of forty years and a minimum age of sixty years.
The Local Government Superannuation Scheme is the statutory pension scheme which applies to the Health Boards. Psychiatric Nurses employed in Health Board psychiatric hospitals have more favourable superannuation benefits than most other public service grades. They can retire at fifty-five years of age after thirty years service. These entitlements arise from the provisions of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945. St. Vincent's Hospital also employs Psychiatric Nurses on secondment from the Eastern Health Board. The Union claims its members are working side by side with these nurses who enjoy superior superannuation benefits to its members. It claims that the benefits as outlined above i.e. retirement at fifty-five after thirty years service should apply to its members employed as Psychiatric Nurses by St. Vincent's Hospital, Fairview.
The Hospital claims that it has been advised by the Department of Health that the enhanced terms for Psychiatric Nurses in the Health Boards are already under review by the Commission on Public Service Pensions. The Commission will also be looking at existing schemes, to see how they can be improved. The Union should wait until the Commission's Report is published.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Conciliation Service of the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 30th May, 1997 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 12th September, 1997.
3. 1. The Union is seeking the same Superannuation provisions for its members as currently applies to Psychiatric Nurses employed by the Health Boards.
2. Psychiatric Nurses in St. Vincent's Hospital are working side by side with Psychiatric Nurses on secondment from the Eastern Health Board who have a more favourable pension scheme. This anomaly should be corrected.
3. The number of nursing staff employed in St. Vincent's Hospital comprises of a tiny minority of the overall body of Psychiatric Nurses within the state.
4. Concession of the claim will not have any knock-on effect .
4. 1. St. Vincent's Hospital, Fairview is a voluntary psychiatric hospital. Staff employed by the hospital come under the Voluntary Hospitals Superannuation Scheme (VHSS).
2. The Local Government Superannuation Scheme is the statutory pension scheme for Health Board employees. Psychiatric nurses employed by St. Vincent's Hospital, Fairview do not qualify for this scheme.
3. To be covered by the Health Board Pension Scheme a hospital has to be a Mental Hospital Authority under the Mental Treatment Act, 1945. St. Vincent's is not such a hospital.
4. The claim cannot be conceded as it would have serious knock-on effects for the hospital.
5. Under the terms of Partnership 2000, Clause 4 of the Appendix states that "insofar as the Public Service is concerned, no claims shall be submitted or processed further pending the Report of the Commission on Public Service Pensions".
6. The Union is free to make a submission to the Commission on Public Service Pensions in relation to this claim.
The Labour Court has sympathy with the Trade Union claim as presented but consider two impediments exist preventing the Court from recommending in favour of the claim.
1. The 1945 Mental Treatment Act.
2. The agreement on Clause 4 of Partnership 2000.
The Court recommends the Union make a separate submission to the Pensions Commission on this issue.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd September, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.