INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
DUBLIN DENTAL HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. The Dublin Dental Hospital, which incorporates the School of Dental Science, is both a teaching and practising hospital which has an association with Trinity College, Dublin. It is funded by the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Health and Children.
The dispute concerns a claim by one worker who commenced employment with the Hospital in 1978, in the capacity of Library Assistant (Grade 3) and who was, subsequently, upgraded to the post of Senior Library Assistant (Grade 4), in 1981. The worker has used the title of "librarian", by agreement, since 1988. The Union claims, on her behalf, that her post should be upgraded to the level of Assistant Librarian (Grade 5) due to changes to the range and nature of her duties. The claim was rejected by the Hospital on the grounds that, as the worker's qualification was not that stipulated for the Public Library Service, the claim for upgrading could not be conceded within that grading structure. Following discussions with the Hospital, it was the Union's understanding that the post could, in fact, be upgraded but that the worker would have to compete for the upgraded post, subsequently. This situation was unacceptable to the Union which then sought to have the matter investigated by a Rights Commissioner. However, the employer side declined to attend such an investigation.
The Union referred the matter to the Labour Court , on the 9th of November, 1998, in accordance with Section 20 (1), Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court carried out its investigation on the 8th of February, 1999, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
1. The worker is seeking recognition for her ongoing role in the development and provision of a first class library-based service for the faculty and students. She has been working as the hospital librarian for more than 20 years and, in that time, has expanded and developed the service almost single-handedly to keep abreast of technological developments and new demands including a teaching role in both lecture and small-group formats on subjects such as research processes and technology-based research media.
2. As librarian, the worker is solely responsible for the day-to-day running of the library, for its content and for the delivery of the service. She works in co-operation with the Library Users' Committee, through its chairperson, and liaises with them, usually once a term.
3. The worker's job has changed since 1982, significantly so, since early 1995. The introduction of "problem-based learning" curriculum has made the library central to the educational process. Information technology has burgeoned in the recent past with significant effects on the library service. In particular the worker has had to respond to developments such as the availability of information in vast quantities on CD-Rom and on the Internet. Additionally, the worker now has a significant teaching role along with her role as librarian (details supplied to the Court).
4. The current qualification requirement is a post-graduate Diploma in Library Studies from UCD. For staff in the service for some years, the previous requirement was an earlier version of the UCD Diploma which was not post-graduate. Within the Public Library system there is a scheme of full-time paid release for approved staff to undertake this Diploma course and this has always been the case. This facility, despite requests, was never given to the worker by the Hospital and, for as long as she continued to work there, she has been denied access to the daytime course which provided mainstream library staff with the qualification required to progress up the promotional ladder. In any event, at the worker's own expense she completed a Diploma course in Library and Information Studies, in Trinity College, Dublin, in 1983. Although the Hospital is part of Trinity College, Dublin, it is unfair that the Diploma, which is accredited by Trinity College, is not acceptable to the Hospital.
5. The worker has taken on a graduate library trainee each year for the past 13 years or so. Accordingly, although she is an accepted part of the training and assessment of candidates for the post-graduate library studies course in UCD, she is considered not to be qualified enough to be allowed to progress professionally herself due to holding the "wrong" qualification.
6. The notion of the worker having to apply for her own job, if upgraded, is unacceptable, as is the prospect of interchangeability with the clerical section.
1. The Hospital offered to remunerate the worker at the equivalent to Grade V while maintaining the title of "librarian". This was fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
2. The national position throughout the public sector is that appropriate academic qualifications are pre-requisite to appointment at Grade 5. The Department of Education and Science is strongly of the view that any breach of this principle would have significant knock-on effects throughout the higher education and public library sectors and the cost of such knock on claims would be potentially very significant.
3. The worker does not possess the mandatory qualifications for appointment to Grade V status and would not be eligible to be considered for appointment to any such post within the higher education or public library sectors.
4. The worker previously worked in Dublin Corporation. If she were still employed in that organisation she would not be eligible for such promotion.
The Court is satisfied that the offer made by the Hospital to promote the claimant to Grade V status is the best method of resolving an issue which has given concern to the claimant for many years. This offer should be made unconditionally, and the Hospital must ensure to allay the fears of the claimant in relation to this offer. Therefore, the Court recommends that the claimant should be placed on Grade V, with effect from 1st January, 1999. The Hospital must in this instance waive the requirement to go through an open competition (this is being recommended due to her long service and exemplary performance record). The Hospital must also give her an assurance that she will not be required to transfer from the library to a clerical/administrative position and that there will be no question of any form of interchangeability between the two sections of work.
The Court recommends that this offer should not interfere with the claimant's right to continue to use the title she has been using.
The Court believes that it should not have been necessary for the Union to refer this claim under Section 20 (i) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court is of the view that the confusion surrounding the Hospital's offer was totally unnecessary.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st March, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.