INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
EASTERN REGIONAL HEALTH AUTHORITY
- AND -
IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Access to posts of responsibility in St Ita's, Portrane.
2. In May, 2000, the Eastern Regional Health Authority advertised a once off confined competition for the filling of Nursing Officer/Clerical Nurse Manager II and Deputy Nursing Officer/Clerical Nurse Manager I posts for St. Joseph's Learning Disability Services and Mental Health, St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane. Nurses eligible to apply were nurses holding a psychiatric nursing qualification.
The dispute concerns the INO's claim in respect of the criteria laid down for access to the posts. It is seeking that registered nurses of the mentally handicapped be deemed eligible to apply for these posts. It argues that many of these posts are in the mental handicapped sector and the requirement laid down is unfair and appears to have been reached with the objective of preferential treatment towards those holding psychiatric qualifications.
The Board's position is that in 1998 the INO sought recognition on behalf of its members in St. Ita's and at that time the Board received objections from the existing nursing unions, Services Industrial Professional Technical Union and the Psychiatric Nurses Association citing the Spheres of Influence Agreement brokered under the auspices of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) as excluding the INO from representation at the hospital. Management is not prepared to place itself in the midst of an inter-union dispute and has brought the matter to the attention of ICTU. An invitation to attend a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission was declined by the Board for the above reasons.
The matter was referred to the Labour Court on the 27th of September, 2000 by the INO under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd of November, 2000. The INO agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The failure of the employer (ERHA) to provide RNMH with an opportunity to run the service they are specifically trained to work in at this time will result in this grade of nurse not having any reasonable expectation of gaining a promotional post prior to retirement within this service.
2. This will have obvious implications for the model used to nurse patients with a learning disability, and will ensure that they will continue to be treated as psychiatric patients despite much progression with alternate models of care elsewhere.
3. It will also demonstrate to those training to become RNMH, that in the opinion of one potential employer their qualification is second rate, and not necessary to manage the services for the intellectually disabled.
4. This Organisation acknowledges that it is at variance with other Trade Unions in respect of its claim on behalf of RNMH, but it contends that the practices and structures of a bygone era have no place in a modern setting which seeks to provide a high standard of student nurse training and maximise patient care.
5. The employer in this case has ignored good industrial relations practices and continued with interviews and selected candidates despite notification by this Organisation of a Labour Relations Commission referral and laterally a referral to the Labour Court. This amounts to blatant disregard for its own grievance procedures and results in a farcical situation where interviews have now been completed and posts are being ratified despite the obvious implication to the clients and the future of the service of this approach.
6. It is the opinion of the Irish Nurses Organisation that the interview process was flawed and that it has ensured a loss of earning for RNMH within the services of St. Joseph's Learning Centre.
7. In view of all the above the INO now request the Court to rule that:
- It is reasonable for RNMH having specialised in a specific division of nursing, to seek inclusion in competitions for promotional posts in that service.
- Compensation should be awarded to all RNMH who were denied in this instance, the opportunity to complete for promotional posts in St. Joseph's Learning Disability Services. This Compensation should secure 90% of the higher post salary to them. (As per the agreement pertaining to un-successful RPNs in the same competition).
- When any of these posts become vacant in the future, the competition to fill will specify the RNMH qualification as being necessary.
4. 1. The current competition is to fill a number of supervisory vacancies which have been filled in a long term capacity on an acting basis.
2. The resolution of the long term acting issue is a fundamental yet preliminary issue which the Board has agreed to address as part of a broader agenda of discussions with both current recognised unions (Psychiatric Nurses Association and SIPTU) in relation to the future development of services at St. Ita's Hospital.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions made by the Union and to the statements and clarification of its position made by ERHA.
The Court believes that it could not make a recommendation on the substance of the Union's claim until the extent to which the INO should have negotiating rights in respect of the St. Joseph's Learning Centre is definitely determined. It is noted that this is a matter of contention between INO and other Trade Unions and has been referred to the ICTU for adjudication.
The Court recommends that the parties should await the outcome of the ICTU procedure in this matter and should review the situation in light of the decision reached.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th November, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.