INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1); INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT; 1969
WESTERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute conccerning loss of earnings and stress due to change of roster at Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar
2. The dispute concerns a worker who has been employed as a staff nurse at the Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar since 1977 and has less than three years to work until retirement. She worked on night duty continuously on a week-on week-off shift for the past eight years. In August, 1998, agreement was reached between Management and nursing staff on a new system of internal rotation on night duty which meant that the worker concerned was also rostered on day shift with less access to night duty than she previously enjoyed. The Union submitted a claim for £10,000 compensation on behalf of the worker. In March, 2000, Management made an offer to the Union (details supplied to the Court). The Union rejected the offer. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and a hearing was held on 11th May, 2000. The Rights Commissioner did not issue a recommendation but endorsed Management's offer and stated that it should be further considered by the Union. The offer was again rejected by the Union. On the 20th June, 2000 the Union referred the dispute to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held in Westport on the 1st November, 2000.
3. 1. In the Blue Book on Pay and Conditions for Nurses1996/97 the section entitled ' Areas of Change in Nursing Management and Delivery' deals with the process of change in relation to rosters. The new system of night duty at the SacredHeart Hospital was not negotiated between Management and the Union, and no discussions took place with the worker in relation to the change in roster.
2. The method used in this instance to implement a new roster was that a ballot was conducted among the Nurses at the Hospital after the issue was discussed through a Hospital Nurses Committee. No mechanism was put into place to deal with the worker's situation, and no attempt was made to accomodate her transition from night duty to day duty in a manner that would have lessened the stress factor and allowed for her to arrange her personal life as a result of the change.
3. While the worker has been offered compensation, which in itself is recognition that she has a case, the sum offered on March, 2000 and subsequently endorsed by the Rights Commissioner does not go far enough to compensate her for the loss and stress she has endured.
4. The Union's claim for loss of earnings should include an addition to the offer of March 1st 2000 of £8000 to compensate the worker for the loss of earnings she will incur until her retirement and also in recognition of the stress she has suffered in this instance.
5. 1. In the context of the agreement on pay and conditions of nurses (Blue Book) local management have encouraged and empowered staff to meet regularly and resolve issues locally. The rosters were agreed with nursing staff to give an equitable distrubition of night/weekend work to nurses.
2. Management acted in a fair and honourable way by consulting staff, implementing the proposed changes and making a very good offer to the worker.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties, finds that tha offer made by the Employer is fair and reasonable.
The Court, therefore, recommends that the Employee accept the offer in settlement of her claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th NOVEMBER, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.