INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
EASTERN HEALTH BOARD
(ST. BRENDAN'S ENGINEERING BASE)
- AND -
BUILDING AND ALLIED TRADES UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. The system for appointing chargehands at the St. Brendan's Engineering Base.
2. The dispute concerns the system for appointing carpenters to chargehand positions at the hospital's engineering base. Until 1997 there were two chargehand positions - one in the therapy area and one in the workshop. The therapy area no longer exists. In December, 1997, the chargehand in the workshop retired and the chargehand in the therapy area (B.O'C.) informed the Personnel Department that he would assume the position of workshop chargehand from the 1st of January, 1998. In March, 1998, the Union was informed that another carpenter (G.M.) had claimed the chargehand position based on his seniority.
The issue was the subject of two conciliation conferences under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the 14th of September, 1998, and the 12th of October, 1998. As agreement was not possible, the Union requested referral of the dispute to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Board agreed and the Labour Court investigated the dispute on the 7th of December, 1998.
3. 1. In 1982, Mr. G.M. claimed the position of chargehand in the workshop on the grounds that the most senior employee had failed to claim it after two days. The Union supported Mr. G.M. at that time as it had been agreed that a vacant post should be claimed within a reasonable period of time. Yet Mr. G.M. has now claimed the position nearly three months after it became vacant and another employee filled it.
2. Since 1982 an agreement is in place, which covers members of both the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians and the Building and Allied Trades Union, whereby the most senior employee assumes the role of chargehand in the workshop, with the next senior in the therapy area. If an employee does not accept either position when it becomes vacant he goes to the bottom of the seniority list. In 1988 Mr. G.M. refused the position of chargehand in the therapy area and, therefore, went to the bottom of the list.
3. Mr. G.M. has not deputised in either therapy or the workshop since 1988. He chose to work at St. Loman's Hospital where he benefited from the payment of travelling time and overtime. He has now claimed the chargehand position at St. Brendan's as St. Loman's is about to close.
4. Mr. B.O'C. is fully supported by the other crafts at St. Brendan's. Seniority is guarded vigorously as each workshop chargehand post is dealt with in the same manner as the carpenter post - if a worker refuses the position he goes to the bottom of the seniority list. If Mr. G.M.'s claim is successful it could cause difficulties in the other workshops.
4. 1. The agreed system for promotion to chargehand posts has always been on the basis of seniority of service. On consideration of Mr. G.M.'s application, it was noted that Mr. G.M. had more years of service than Mr. B.O'C. and, therefore, the Board proposed to appoint him as chargehand. However, Mr. B.O'C. continues in the post of acting chargehand until the resolution of this dispute.
2. Management has no record or recollection of any agreement which specifies that accessibility to the chargehand post in the workshop was via the post in the therapy area. Both posts were very different. The main emphasis of the therapy post was patient rehabilitation and training, while the workshop post was more managerial.
The parties to this dispute are constrained from reaching agreement on this issue because of the involvement of a third party, namely the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians, whose views on the position are not known. In view of this it is the recommendation of the Court that the matter be referred to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions with a view to securing an agreed position from the workers side.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th January, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.