INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Application of the interim agreement (pre "Blue Book") to Nurse Tutors involved in the Student Nurse Diploma Programme.
2. The dispute concerns a claim by the Union for the application of the interim agreement to Nurse Tutors employed in the Mater Hospital who are involved in the Student Nurse Diploma Programme.
The pilot training programme for nurse students in general training was introduced in University Hospital, Galway in 1994. The programme was extended to other hospitals in 1995 and 1996 and to the Mater Hospital in October, 1997. The Union's demand is that the Tutors involved should be upgraded from Grade 3 to Grade 2 on a point to point basis, similar to their colleagues in other hospitals involved in the programme.
In September, 1997, following discussions with the Union, Management, on the advice of the Department of Health, stated they were not in a position to move on the pay aspect of the agreement but conceded the non-pay aspect, i.e., 2 days additional leave.
The dispute was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the 21st of July, 1998. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th of November, 1998.
3. 1. The introduction of the new programme for the training of student nurses has created a greater work load and more responsibilities for the Tutors involved.
2. It is not acceptable that Tutors holding the same qualifications, with the same length of service and carrying out exactly the same duties are being paid a different rate of salary than their colleagues in other hospitals who participated in the programme at an earlier stage.
3. Management conceded the other aspects of the agreement and should concede this claim as the cost would be minimal and would not be in breach of the terms of the "Blue Book".
4. 1. The issuing of the "Blue Book" superseded all agreements. The interim agreement was subsumed into the revised rates.
2. There are no additional funds available to meet further claims for special pay increases for nursing grades.
3. If the claim is conceded it would have huge repercussions.
The Court, having considered all the information presented by the parties, is satisfied that the special allowance paid to nurses involved in the projects prior to the negotiations in 1997 was discontinued on agreement being reached. Those who at the time were in receipt of the allowance were given credit for this when assimilated into the new nurse tutor scales.
The claimants were not in receipt of the allowance at that time and therefore did not benefit from this progression to the new pay scales. However, all nurse tutors are now on the same pay scale structure following the 1997 agreement, the only difference being the method of assimilation.
The decision to allow those already working in the projects, and enjoying an allowance, to have this allowance included for assimilation has resulted in a situation where tutor nurses in different hospitals with the same service can be receiving different levels of the salary even though all have the same potential salary maximum.
While the Court accepts that this situation can create tensions and that it may not have been made clear through all negotiating stages, the Court cannot give retrospective credit to the claimants for being involved in the projects prior to the 1997 agreement given that their involvement in the project only commenced after the agreement was reached in 1997.
The Court, therefore, does not recommend concession of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
16th February, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Gerardine Buckley, Court Secretary.