INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
AN BREACADH NUA, ARD AOIBHINN CENTRE
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Rate of pay for care assistants.
2. In 1995 two centres, St. Michael's and St. Clare's, which care for people with disabilities, merged to form An Breacadh Nua in Wexford Town. A purpose-built facility, the Ard Aoibhinn Centre, which was opened early that year caters for people of all ages, with varying levels of disability. The centre can cater for up to 60 clients who are admitted through referrals from the South Eastern Health Board.
An Breacadh Nua is run by a voluntary committee which is elected annually. The centre is 80% funded by the South Eastern Health Board with the remaining funds raised through voluntary means. The centre currently employs a total of 23 workers. The dispute concerns the rate of pay for care assistants who are currently on the Health Board's general operative rate. The Union claims that, as they are engaged in "care assistant" type duties, their rate is inappropriate and, accordingly, negotiations should take place on a correct rate. The claim is rejected by the Centre. The dispute was the subject of conciliation conferences, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 17th of February, 1998, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation, in Wexford, on the 29th of April, 1998.
3. 1. When the Centre was established, agreement was reached on application of Health Board rates where there were applicable comparisons in the national pay structure. In the case of care assistants, as there was no national rate, the Centre picked the lowest rate in the Health Board, the Group 1 rate, which applies to general operative-type workers. As the care assistants are not general operatives their linking to non-nursing grades is inappropriate.
2. Labour Court Recommendation LCR14176, issued on the 23rd August, 1993, dealt with a similar case and in that recommendation the Court concluded that the non-nursing grade was an inappropriate comparator. Accordingly, the Company should enter into meaningful negotiations and implement a scale appropriate to the caring duties of the category concerned.
4. 1. Group 1 of the non-nursing rationalised grading structure 1-8 is the maximum rate applying to all care assistants engaged by both Section 65 and directly funded agencies outside of Dublin. The Union has already submitted claims for an increase in this rate in some directly funded services. The concession of a higher rate of pay in An Breacadh Nua would have national ramifications.
2. An increase in the rate for care assistants would undoubtedly be cited as a precedent in other locations. Under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) groups could process a single cost-increasing claim if and only if they had not already received a special pay award under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP). The group in this dispute benefited from an award of £16.04 under the PESP which was negotiated by the Union on a national basis on behalf of all non-officer grades. Part of the agreement reached at that time included a moratorium on all further cost-increasing claims for any individuals or grades during the currency of the PCW.
3. Any precedent set in the Centre, would also have ramifications under Partnership 2000. Under the current agreement, special pay awards are restricted under Clause 4 of the Annexe of Public Service pay whereby a maximum of 2% may be negotiated in respect of a "particular grade, group or category". However, this is "conditional on there having been verified progress to a satisfactory level on implementation of the modernisation programme set out in Chapter 10 of the Partnership".
4. A claim for an increase in pay for the non-nursing groups 1-8 is currently being pursued at national level. This claim has been submitted on foot of Labour Court Recommendation LCR15765 which pertains to the craft group of unions with which groups 1-8 are claiming relativity.
The Court, having considered the submissions from the parties, is satisfied that the claim made has national implications and, accordingly, despite the length of time since the claim was first entered, the Court does not feel justified in issuing a specific finding in the case.
Noting recent developments in opening negotiations at national level, the Court recommends that this claim be given urgent consideration at national level.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th May, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.