INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CARA CHESHIRE HOUSE
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. New care assistant rate.
2. The Cheshire Homes were founded in 1948. The Cheshire Foundation in Ireland has 14 centres and provides residential accommodation for people between the ages of 18 to 65 with physical disabilities. The dispute concerns Cara Cheshire House in the Phoenix Park which employs 3 senior care workers and 25 care workers. The Union's claim is that the care assistant rate for mental handicap agencies - known as the Stewart's Hospital rate - should apply to its members. This rate was introduced with effect from the 1st of April, 2000.
The House is funded by Department of Health and Children through the Northern Area Health Board . The Union made its claim in December, 2000. The Department informed the Cheshire Foundation that the Stewart's Hospital rate only applied to care assistants working in mental handicap agencies. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 18th of June, 2001. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 29th of June, 2001, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 11th of October, 2001, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The work of the members concerned is comparable to those in the mental handicap agencies and, in some ways, is more demanding, as the units are small and isolated whereas larger hospitals have more staff support. (The Union supplied a number of examples of the work involved).
2. The workers in the House provide a quality, caring service for the residents. However, morale is extremely low because of low wages and a number of staff have left for this reason. This turnover of staff can affect the well-being of residents, because of continuity of care and familiarity with existing staff.
4. 1. The Foundation cannot accede to the Union's claim without the approval of the Department of Health and funding from the Health Board. The rate of pay that the Union is seeking applies to mental handicap agencies only.
2. Concession of the Union's claim could have serious cost implications for the Foundation, and have significant repercussive effects amongst other grades of staff. The claim is cost-increasing and, therefore, precluded under the P.P.F.
The Court understands that a mechanism exists, within the profiling process for non-nursing grades in the health sector, by which the Union's claim can be addressed in a broader context.
The Court recommends that the profiling process in respect of care workers in the physical handicap sector be given priority and should commence as soon as is practical after the date of this recommendation. The current claim should be subsumed within that process.
Should the Union consider that the process is being unduly delayed, they may refer the matter back to the Court.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd October, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.