INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NORTH EASTERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. 1. Disturbance/Relocation; 2. Upgrading of an employee; 3. Cover for annual leave.
2. The Union submitted a claim on behalf of its members in relation to the matters as outlined above.
The Union claims that in April, 1998 an agreement was reached with the non-nursing section of St. Mary's Hospital, Drogheda, for the transfer of staff from the old hospital to the new hospital. It was subsequently brought to the Union's attention that management had offered the nursing section a bonus of an extra week's holiday for the transfer. Management gave an undertaking to the Union that the one week's holiday would also apply to the non-nursing grade.
Management claims that while an informal commitment may have been given it had never intended to grant the additional leave without a quid pro quo.
Up until the nurses' agreement, the start time for nurses was 9.00 a.m., an hour later than that of the ward attendants. Because of the different start times the ward attendants took an unofficial tea break at 8.45 a.m. This unofficial tea break has been in existence for over twenty years. The Board has sought the abolition of the break in exchange for the week's holiday. The Union rejected the Board's proposal.
UPGRADING OF AN EMPLOYEE
The Union claims that the worker concerned was doing work for the hospital which she believed entitled her to a higher grading and remuneration.
The Board states that it made an offer to the worker in an effort to resolve the matter but that the offer was rejected. The worker subsequently changed her mind regarding the offer. The Board claims however, that its offer was withdrawn when it was rejected by the Union.
COVER FOR ANNUAL LEAVE
Prior to the move from the old hospital to the new hospital the ward attendants carried out certain work. Following the move the parties agreed that this work would be carried out by the gardener/utility man. The ward attendants believe that when the utility person is absent due either to sickness or annual leave that he should be replaced. The Board believes that the ward attendants should do this work when the utility person is absent.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commissions. Following three conciliation conferences no agreement was reached. The Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) put forward proposals to resolve the dispute but these were rejected by both sides. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 7th of May, 1999 under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 30th of November, 1999 (the earliest date suitable to the parties).
3. 1. It was indicated by the Board that the non-nursing staff would get an extra week's holiday in line with that given to the nursing staff.
2. The decision of the Board to tie in the question of the early morning break with the extra week's leave was rejected by the members.
3. The Board should treat all staff both nursing and non-nursing in an equal manner.
4. 1. The nurses were given the extra week's holiday in exchange for roster changes including an earlier start change from 9.00 a.m. to 8.00 a.m. in addition to a staggered lunch.
2. Management was prepared to grant the extra week's leave to the non-nursing staff in return for agreement to alter the morning breaks.
3. The non-nursing staff have two morning breaks. Management has sought the amalgamation of the two breaks to be taken as one thirty minute break on a staggered basis. This would provide for improved patient care.
UPGRADING OF AN EMPLOYEE
5. 1. The worker is performing work which she believes entitles her to a higher grading and remuneration.
2. The attitude taken by management in this matter cannot be accepted in the climate of Partnership 2000.
3. The worker has been with the Board since 1980 and should be treated in a more friendly and equitable manner.
6. 1. The Board made an offer to the worker in 1998 to resolve the matter but it was rejected by the worker. The offer was then withdrawn.
2. When the offer was rejected the Board made alternative arrangements for this particular work to be carried out.
3. The Board agreed to have the worker's post evaluated under the national job evaluation system. However, the Union did not proceed with this process.
COVER FOR ANNUAL LEAVE
7. 1. The worker concerned is employed as a grounds/utility person and when he is absent due to sickness or annual leave his work should be covered by the employment of a temporary person.
2. When he is absent some of his duties are left until he returns to work, but due to the nature of the post some of his duties have to be carried out on a daily basis.
3. While management agreed to cover some of his duties which relate to the operations of the wards, the majority of his duties are left until he returns to work.
8. 1. The agreement with the ward attendants was that when the gardener/utility man was absent the ward attendants would do the job.
2. The Board negotiated a number of productivity agreements with non-nursing personnel over the years. These agreements provide for flexibility in the development of staff within and between different institutions. Failure to provide this flexibility negates the terms of these agreements.
The Court having considered all the information presented, both oral and written, recommends as follows on the three issues in dispute:-
There is a major conflict between the parties in relation to what was agreed on the issue of one weeks' extra leave which was conceded to another group. The management side are adamant that it was indicated that any concession of this extra leave would have to be based on change and would not be automatically conceded.
The Union are adamant that the extra week was agreed by a management representative and clarified subsequently by phone without any conditions being attached. While this may be the position as viewed by the Union there is no written specification in the agreement or in the proposals put by the Union to its members of this position.
The Court is conscious that the claimants have made significant changes on a wide range of issues and therefore recommends in this context that the week should be conceded.
The Court having considered all aspects of this case recommends that the management agree the one week's leave for this particular group in return for the changes they have already given as part of these discussions.
The Court finds it unreasonable of the employees not to address the problems of break times as outlined by management and to accept the requirements to change in this area. The Court strongly recommends that the Union enter into discussions with management to review the changes sought in the break arrangement.
2.RATES OF PAY AND CONDITIONS FOR AN EMPLOYEE
The Court finds it strange that the management were unable to resolve this problem when this employee changed her mind and indicated acceptance of the proposals within a number of weeks.
While the Court accepts that the situation has moved on and it may not now be possible to revert to the proposals originally made, it is satisfied that there is an issue to be dealt with in the claimant's case.
The Court, therefore, recommends that the parties enter into discussions with a view to making a proposal to resolve the issue.
3.COVER FOR ANNUAL LEAVE
The Court notes that the parties agreed at the hearing that an unreasonable absence would be given favourable consideration for provision of cover by management and that in return the Union will revert back to its original operating position.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.