INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
SOUTHERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Transfer of work.
2. The Union's claim is as follows:- prior to August, 2001, a Gambro AK 10 machine was used in the I.C.U. for treating patients. This machine was always maintained by the electricians. In August, 2001, new Prisma machines arrived in the Hospital to replace the Gambro machines. The Union requested that the electricians should be trained in on the Prisma machines. However, the Board decided that the Bio-Medical Engineering Department would now have full responsibility in providing support and maintenance for the Prisma machines.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 22nd of April, 2002, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 2nd of October, 2002, in Cork, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. Management made a unilateral decision to redistribute work that was proper to the electricians. If the work was to be transferred, the Union should have been consulted for the sake of good industrial relations.
2.With sufficient training, the electricians would be capable of maintaining the Prisma machines . The work involved is not much different than on the Gambro machine. This is not a case of the workers seeking additional money.It concerns work that is proper to them being taken away.
4. 1. The Board undertook a risk assessment through its Risk Manager. It was decided that best practice for servicing the Prisma machine was the use of the Bio-Medical Engineering Department.
2. The Board is of the view that no transfer of work has taken place.
When a new model of dialysis machine for use in I.C.U. was introduced, the Hospital required Bio-Medical technicians to be responsible for its maintenance. The Union in this case claims that the work of maintaining the machine was the type of work normally carried out by the electricians. It claims that its members were not adequately consulted about the unilateral withdrawal of work appropriate to them and sought meaningful negotiations on a transfer of the work in question.
In response, the Hospital indicated that all other hospitals who have these machines service the equipment by use of technicians. Furthermore, it held that the use of two people, one a technician and one an electrician in servicing the bank of machines in I.C.U. is inherently unsafe.
Taking these factors into account, the Court considers that while it was reasonable in the circumstances to transfer such work from the electricians to the Bio-Medical technicians, the Hospital should have consulted with the Union beforehand.
The Court recommends that in the future management should ensure that they communicate with all concerned prior to the introduction of any new machinery.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th October, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.