INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
JAMES CONNOLLY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Pay, staffing and time off in lieu - Radiographers.
2. The issue in dispute relates to arrangements for Radiographers to provide emergency on-call cover for Theatre and Cat Scanning services at James Connolly Memorial Hospital. There are currently 16 Radiographers and 1 Locum Radiographer employed at the Hospital. Informal voluntary arrangements have been in place for Theatre cover since circa 1990 and for C.T. cover since 1999. Both parties agree that formal arrangements should be put in place to have on-call rosters to cover both services.
A number of meetings were held at local level, but the parties were unable to reach agreement, particularly on the issue of time off in lieu for carrying bleeps. The Union informed Management on the 24th of July, 2001, that its members were withdrawing from the provision of emergency cover from the 27th of July. Management agreed to concede (without prejudice to future negotiations) two days off for each of two Radiographers providing emergency cover. The issue was then referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 9th of August, 2001.
The Union sought an increase of four in the complement of Radiographers and two days off each week for carrying bleeps. The Hospital offered to pay on-call at sessional rates (and pro-rata after five hours), to incorporate the Locum into the regular staff complement and to pay standby rates (£111.70 - 141.83 Euro per week) in respect of carrying bleeps. In addition, the Hospital had earlier proposed to increase the staffing level by two. The Union rejected the Hospital's proposals and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 10th of August, 2001, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The parties agreed to continue the emergency arrangement for weekend cover and the Labour Court investigated the issue on the 14th of August, 2001.
3. 1. This issue has been of major concern for some time and has now become a source of major conflict, as the employees concerned feel that their goodwill has been taken for granted, and, indeed, abused.
2. The claimants have made themselves available on an ad hoc basis for many years, but the number of calls has dramatically increased since the year 2000. Reduced staffing levels, partly due to long term sick leave, have resulted in Radiographers working an average of 43.6 hours per week (including 1 in every 2.9 weekends) on the general rota alone and, in addition, covering C.T. and Theatre at weekends.
3. The lack of adequate rest periods has given rise to a particular concern on health and safety grounds. The Union believes that the staffing complement should be increased from 16 to 21 on the on-call rota. A complement of 21 Radiographers will also be required to comply with the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.
4. Although financial compensation is a very important part of any additional hours commitment, the issue of rest time is of major importance to the claimants. Their quality of life is diminished by working excessively long hours and this should be balanced by time off in lieu. While there is no national agreement on this issue, there are numerous agreements in the health service involving time off or payments above Department of Health rates.
4. 1. Any formal arrangement should be done in accordance with the agreed national rates. Radiographers receive sessional rates for on-call duties rather than a fee per patient, which are, in general, better than in any other hospital in the country.
2. The Hospital considers that the payment of the stand-by rate (£111.70 - 141.83 Euro) for carrying a bleep is a reasonable remuneration. In addition, its proposal to employ two additional Radiographers provides more than adequate cover to provide for time off.
3. There is a wide range of health service staff throughout the country who make themselves available on-call for emergencies. To concede the Radiographers' claim for time off would have serious implications throughout the health service. It would be in breach of existing agreed National Arrangements and would, effectively, amount to a triple payment arrangement, i.e. sessional rates, on-call rates and time off.
4. There is a national joint Union and Management Radiology Service Review currently taking place. On-call arrangements in the long term should be in accordance with the recommendations of this Group. Any arrangements entered into at this time should be agreed as an interim measure.
Having considered the submissions of the parties, the Court recommends that the offer made by the Hospital at conciliation be accepted subject to the following modifications:
Where a Radiographer is on standby and carrying a bleep, they should receive one day off and be paid 50% of the standby allowance offered.
A third additional radiography post (together with consolidating the current temporary post into the establishment) should be provided.
The arrangements as recommended above should be reviewed by the parties following the publication of the report of the Expert Group on Radiography Grades.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th August, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.