INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
ST JOSEPH'S NURSING HOME
(REPRESENTED BY FRANK LANIGAN MALCOMSON LAW, SOLICITORS)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Dispute regarding pay.
2. The dispute concerns 9 workers employed as nurses at St. Joseph's Nursing Home, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. At present, the Home caters for 38 residents, but with a new extension being built it will have a total capacity of 48 beds. The Home has been in operation since February, 1992, and became unionised in October, 1997. The 9 workers are all regular part-time workers.
In February, 1998, the Union met with management for the first time and made the following claims:-
- A. Aspiration to achieve Health Board nursing scale (minimum point of scale).
B. Payment of national wage increases (i.e. Partnership 2000).
C. Application of Working Time Act in respect of holiday entitlement and public holiday pay.
D. Sunday Premium - double time for all hours worked.
The parties have not met since March, 1998, despite, the Union claims, numerous requests to do so. Management's position is that there is no dispute. The Union referred the dispute to the Labour Court on the 20th of January, 1999, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 23rd of March, 1999, in Kilkenny. Management did not attend the hearing or forward a written submission.
3. 1. The 9 workers are all registered nurses, some with post-graduate qualifications.
2. The workers perform nursing duties in the same way as nurses employed by the Health Board, but have even greater pressures of work - 2 nurses work 12-hour day shifts and 1 nurse works a 12-hour night shift. There will soon be 48 residents to be looked after.
3. The commitment and care given by the workers is second to none. Even if the proposed phased increases were paid, the workers (some with 20 and 30 years experience) will be at best be on the minimum Health Board pay rate for a newly qualified nurse.
4. The Union has continually tried to cultivate a good industrial relations climate with management but with no success.
5. The Nursing Home would appear to be profitable if it can afford to carry out the current extension.
It is noted that the employer did not accept an invitation from the Labour Relations Commission to discuss this dispute at conciliation, nor did they attend the Court hearing. The employer’s stated reason for not attending is that they do not accept that a dispute exists with their staff.
Having considered the submission made by the Union, it is plainly obvious that a trade dispute does exist between the employer and the employees who are represented by SIPTU. The Court believes that the stance adopted by the employer in this case amounts to a denial of reality.
The Court believes that the employer should now accept that a valid trade dispute exists between it and the Union, and should seek to resolve that dispute by negotiation in the normal way. The Court, therefore, recommends the employer and the Union should now refer the dispute to the Labour Relations Commission in the first instance and engage in meaningful negotiations to resolve the issues in dispute.
If arrangements to commence negotiations have not been made within six weeks of the date of this recommendation, the Court will issue a definitive recommendation on the issues in dispute.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th April, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.