INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
BROTHERS OF CHARITY
- AND -
IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. The Brothers of Charity has been involved in the operation of services in St. Senan’s Centre, Foynes, Co. Limerick since 1985. It provides nursing care for severely mentally and physically disabled residents. Previously these services had been operated by the Mid-Western Health Board.
In 1995 management decided to construct a purpose built facility in Foynes and relocate the services to the new facility. Two new bungalows have been built and are ready for occupation.
The dispute concerns the failure of the parties to reach agreement in relation to issues concerning the relocation and, consequently, relocation to the new facility has been
delayed. The Unions are seeking a number of improvements in relation to the facilities, including the provision of one additional nurse.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. A proposal put forward by the Industrial Relations Officer following the conciliation conference was rejected by the Unions. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 10th of June, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 18th of July, 2002.
3. 1. Great importance should be given to the manner in which the residents are cared for. The maintenance of the current level of care can only be provided, by appointing an additional nurse on night duty, owing to the design of the new physical environment.
2. Nursing staff will not take responsibility for the abandonment of the residents at any time throughout the night.There is a suggestion of a two-tier system of care within the region. A nurse in another service in the Mid-West Region was disciplined for leaving a resident with a moderate disability alone for a short period even though another nurse was in the room next door.
3. The request to reduce the daytime staffing complement is unsustainable.
4. No bath has been provided in either bungalow for normal day to day hygiene maintenance. Despite the fact that nursing staff had researched and sourced the most appropriate type available by visiting other centres throughout the country in an attempt to meet the residents needs, the suggested Parker bath was not installed. The carers’ requests such as baths and showering facilitiesshould be adhered to.
5. The night duty shift comprises 12 hours, however, nursing staff are only paid for 11 hours. The basic right for any worker is to be paid for the hours worked.
6. The Unions contend that all nurses, both current and new, should be in receipt of 3 x 7.8 hour concession days.
7. Some concerns surrounding health and safety to the residents and staff could have been avoided, if the suggestion by the staff, in the initial planning stage, of providing a link corridor between the bungalows, had been adopted.
4. 1. St. Senan’s Centre, Foynes, is not a suitable building, and from a health and safety point of view, is unsafe. The new bungalows offer a state of the art facility which will greatly enhance the care of the client and the working conditions for staff.
2. The opening of these bungalows is seen as a transfer of existing facilities from St. Senan’s Centre. No additional funding for these facilities has been received from the Department of Health and Children.
3. The request for a linkage between bungalows is not a feasible option as it would interfere with access and egress in cases of emergency.
4. Additional staffing is not merited on night duty. However, management is prepared to provide an extra post on night duty which would come from the day complement of nursing posts.
5. A wide range of security measures have been put in place. Staff will be working in a much safer environment, as the bungalows are adjacent to each other.
6. Staffing ratios to client numbers in St. Senan’s Centre are high.
7. There is an en-suite staff room provided in each bungalow and there is a separate office facility for the manager.
8. The parents of the clients expressed concern and anger that their children remain in unsuitable conditions while a new state of the art building lies vacant.
9. Management accepted in full the proposal of the Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Labour Relations Commission.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions of the parties.
Having regard to all the circumstances of this case the Court considers that the proposals put forward by the IRO in his letter of 13th May represents the best way forward for resolving this dispute.
The Court notes that the employer is prepared to concede the Union's claim for payment of additional hours for night duty and that the €2,000 recommended by the IRO should be regarded as settlement of the retrospection element involved. The Court also believes that the two concession days leave at 7.8 hours should be applied in respect of both existing and new staff.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
12th August, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Caroline Hayes, Court Secretary.