INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
WESTERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning the non advertising of nursing posts.
2. The issue in dispute arises out of an incident which led to industrial action following the appointment of a nurse to a post in Westport Community Hospital. The nurse is a former member of SIPTU who subsequently joined another union (PNA). The nurse has been on paid leave for a number of months and had turned down various posts offered to her by the Board. When the worker was appointed to Westport, SIPTU members took industrial action but this was later suspended pending the processing of the issue through industrial relations procedures The Union claims that the post was created for the worker in Westport without consultation or negotiation and in breach of normal procedures and agreements. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 10th of February, 1999. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 26th of February, 1999. A Court hearing was held on the 15th of March, 1999. Subsequent to the Coiurt hearing the worker applied for a job sharing post in Claremorris. The Board appointed the worker to this post to cover a period of maternity leave with effect from the 22nd of March, 1999. A letter recommendation was issued on the 20th of April, 1999.
3. 1. The Union represented this particular nurse in various negotiations which she had with the Board about securing a particular post. She was offered a contract which she rejected and the Union then negotiated further on behalf of this worker and secured an agreement with Management on her behalf (details to the Court). The worker subsequently stopped communications with the Union and joined another Union ((PNA). However, SIPTU received no transfer application as per rules of Congress and understood it still represented the worker. The Board then availed of the services of an independent mediator who wrote to the Union requesting that it attend a meeting, stating that there was an "inter union dispute". The Union found
the Board's course of action incomprehensible and did not attend the meeting. Subsequently, a recommendation emanated from the Mediator resulting from which the Board has created a post for the worker without consultation with the Union.
2. The Union finds this to be an incredible, unbelievable scenario. It is being forced to accept a Third Party recommendation that it has not been a party to and has not been allowed to see the recommendation. The terms of reference of the Third Party discussions were broken by the presence of a representative of the other Union. All agreements whether individual or collective must be reached with SIPTU through the proper industrial relations procedure and only in agreement with this Union and Management.
3. Private consultants cannot overrule agreements established through the proper procedures. the Board must consult with this Union and seek agreement before making any changes or creating any posts or making appointments to posts as per established agreements.
4. 1. The Union has accused Management of being in breach of procedures for the filling of posts. There was no breach of procedure. Any attempts by the Board to reason or to give an explanation to SIPTU failed on the basis that it was perceived that the Board was acceding to any or all of the demands being made by the PNA on behalf of its member. It became obvious to the Board during the discussions with SIPTU in the first week of February, that allegations of the Board's breach of procedure in assigning a Staff Nurse to Westport was of lesser importance than the fact that a former member of SIPTU who had now joined the PNA was working in Westport against the wishes of SIPTU. Demands by SIPTU to move the Nurse to a location which was acceptable to them is in fact the kernel of the issue. The Western Health Board's position is that the assignment of staff is the responsibility and prerogative of Management and will be done within normal agreed procedures.
2. In this case there was no vacancy, there was no newly created post. There was however, an Arbitration Report which had very clear recommendations. The Board resolved to implement such recommendations by creating a temporary supernumerary post of 19½ hours per week in Westport and does not accept that SIPTU or any other Union should be entitled to determine where a member of another Union should be assigned to within the Mayo Psychiatric Services.
3. It is also the Board's view that the breach of procedure by SIPTU members by walking off duty is in breach of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990, and showed not only disregard for industrial relations procedures but its members engaged in dangerous and irresponsible behaviour, given the nature of the service.
4. The Board's position is that the rights and entitlements of every member of staff must be acknowledged and upheld. The right of this particular employee to go to work and to carry out her normal working duties in a safe and healthy environment has been greatly affected by a Union who has stated that "might is right" and that by Management facilitating the employee on a temporary supernumerary basis, there is a serious breach of procedure for the filling of such posts.
5. The Union claims that the post being occupied by the staff member was either a newly created Nursing Officer post or a Research post, either of which should have been filled in the normal way, that is, if it is the Nursing Officer post then it should be filled by open competition for which there exists a panel or alternatively if it were a Research post, then it should be advertised internally.
6. The Board has already clarified the matter to SIPTU that the position held by the employee is neither in the Nursing Officer post or Research post. SIPTU refuse to accept this explanation and insist that the only way they will tolerate her employment with the Board is if she is transferred to an area where she would working with PNA members only and not with SIPTU members as heretofore.
7. The Board rejects this demand and insists on its prerogative to assign staff in keeping with normal procedures and agreements, while at the same time carrying out its duty of care towards its staff. The Board's position is that it created a temporary, supernumerary position to facilitate the recommendation of a Third Party.
8. A 10 hour Research post which will be coming on stream in the near future will be advertised in the normal way. The Board will also fill any new Nursing Officer Post according to agreed procedures. The assignment of staff within the Mayo Psychiatric Services is management's responsibility and each member of staff is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.
The Court has carefully considered both the written and oral submissions by each of the parties. The Court is of the view that the filling of this post was in breach of the agreed procedures.
Therefore, the Court recommends that in future the filling of such posts must be carried out in accordance with the written procedures as agreed by both parties.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th April, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.