INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
LEOPARDSTOWN PARK HOSPITAL/CARMEN CENTRE
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Grading, Pay and Annual Leave.
2. The Carmen Centre was established under the aegis of the Leopardstown Park Hospital in April, 1994. It provides a day-care service from Monday to Friday for approximately 10 high dependency patients who are elderly and mentally infirm.
The Centre is run by a Manager and two full-time attendants, under the overall direction of the Hospital Matron. There are also two temporary helpers. The claim is on behalf of the two attendants, and is for improved grading/payment and annual leave. The Union believes that the two attendants should be graded at assistant houseparent level, with the appropriate annual leave of 25 days per annum. The two attendants were recruited from hospital where they had worked as ward attendants.
The Union initially referred the case to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) but could not get agreement from management side to attend a conciliation conference. The Union then referred its case to the Labour Court on the 10th of September, 1998, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Union agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The appropriate grade/rate of pay was never established for the two attendants. The rate of pay for the two attendants on the 1st of July, 1998, was an eleven point scale from £12,025 - £12,719 per annum. The assistant houseparent scale on the same date was 10 points, from £15,470 - £20,150. There is a considerable difference between the 2 scales.
2. The Hospital has acknowledged the uniqueness of the work done by the 2 attendants. The Carmen Centre would not have developed in the way it has without their flexibility and enthusiasm. There were no models to draw experience from at the time of its inception. The attendants supervise the helpers and are expected to deputise for the manager in her absence. Because of the nature of the work, the job can be very stressful.
3. The job description of the assistant houseparents (details supplied to the Court) corresponds, with very few exceptions, to the duties of the two attendants.
4. 1. Assistant houseparents have to be more qualified than the two attendants. Assistant houseparents also have significant management responsibilities which the attendants do not have. The Department of Health and Children maintains that there is no comparison between the grades.
2. One of the reasons that the Hospital did not attend the Labour Relations Commission was that it was awaiting the outcome of the current pay issues affecting non-nursing grades, which would include the two attendants. The claim should be dealt with under the appropriate clause of Partnership 2000.
3. Although the standard annual leave applying to the two attendants is 20 days, in practice they receive 22/23 days leave. The Centre is closed for the month of August, approximately two weeks at Christmas and a few days at Easter.
The Court considered both the written and oral submissions presented by the parties. The Court believes that it should not have been necessary for the Union to refer this claim under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 to 1990. There is no doubt that the normal industrial relations machinery should have been used, particularly in the light of the delays that have occurred as a result.
On the issue in dispute, both sides agree that the demands of the job exceed the value placed on it by management when it was first put into operation. Management agrees that the nature of the work is more intense than the nurses aide grade in the hospital to whom the attendants were originally aligned. The Union contends that the level of skill inherent in the job has never been recognised and must be corrected.
The Court recommends that, as a matter of urgency, the parties should negotiate on the substantive issue, using the Labour Relations Commission to assist in the resolution of the dispute. To facilitate in this process, an evaluation of the attendants' job should be carried out prior to the negotiations.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th December, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.