INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
MIDLAND HEALTH BOARD
(REPRESENTED BY THE HEALTH SERVICE EMPLOYERS' AGENCY)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Job evaluation for ambulance personnel.
2. In March, 1999, a new Ambulance Central Command and Control Centre was established in the grounds of Tullamore General Hospital. Seven appointments were made at the level of Ambulance Controller. The Centre's function is to co-ordinate the resources of the Ambulance Service in the Midland Health Board area.
In April, 1999, the Union submitted a regrading claim on behalf of the Emergency Medical Controllers. A resolution was not possible at local level and the issue was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on the 3rd of December, 1999. The Industrial Relations Officer adjourned the conference on the basis that the issue had national implications and should be considered by the national negotiating bodies in the context of existing agreements.
In October, 2000, the Union requested referral to the Labour Court and the Board agreed. The dispute was referred to the Court on the 11th of December, 2000 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the issue on the 16th of February, 2001, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Control Centre in Tullamore represents a huge investment in financial terms in world leading technology. The system differs radically from the primarily manual Control Systems that operate in most of the rest of the country.
2. The role of the Controller in Tullamore differs from those elsewhere in the country. The claimants had to complete three months initial training and subsequently completed a Personal Development and Leadership Course. They use state of the art technology and work in a highly pressurised and stressful environment.
3. The Union is seeking to have the role of the Controllers independently assessed by a suitably qualified individual agreeable to both parties. The Assessor's role would be to evaluate the job of the Controller, to compare the role to other control centres and to make recommendations on the establishment of senior grade positions.
4. In the interim, the Health Board should abide by the 1997 Provincial Ambulance Service Agreement which established a pay relationship with the Dublin Leading Ambulance Personnel. If and when the Controllers in Dublin are regraded, the Controllers in Tullamore should continue their pay relationship.
4. 1. The Union's claim cannot be addressed in isolation. Any adjustment or alteration to the existing pay of Emergency Medical Controllers would have immediate knock on implications with other Health Boards.
2. The claimants were party to the 1997 Agreement which specifically provided for full commitment and co-operation with ongoing change and future service development, including the introduction and extension of technology and equipment to its greatest potential.
3. The claimants have already received special pay awards under national agreements, which provided for significant pay increases in return for agreement on productivity/flexibility measures. The Union now appears to be seeking to break the pay link which was established with the Dublin Controllers Group in the 1997 agreement.
4. Developments in technology have not created additional work or responsibilities for the claimants. It is Management's contention that such developments have assisted them in the performance of their duties. In addition, the claim is a cost increasing one and is, therefore, in breach of the stabilisation clause of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.
The Court has considered the written and oral submissions made. It has been pointed out to the Court that the work of the ambulance personnel is changing due to the introduction of Central Command and Control Centres in Health Board areas. The Midlands area is the first area that such a transformation has taken place. However, it is clear that others will follow suit. Therefore, the Court cannot recommend that it should be singled out but should be addressed as part of a national group of ambulance personnel to be affected by such changes.
The Court is aware that the work of ambulance personnel will be the subject of a Benchmarking exercise under the terms of Framework One Annex Two of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. It is intended that this exercise will take account of roles, duties and responsibilities of grades. Therefore, the Court is of the view that there would be no gain in having an independent evaluation of the grade of Controllers in the Tullamore Centre carried out at this stage as claimed by the Union.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th March, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.