INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HEALTH SERVICE EMPLOYERS AGENCY (HSEA)
- AND -
PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION (PNA)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Increase to the Community Allowance.
2. Following the issuing of LCR13358 in 1991, Psychiatric nurses have been in receipt of the Community Allowance. The Union's view is that the allowance was to compensate staff who moved into the community for the loss of earnings resulting from the transfer. The Agency maintains that the allowance was to be paid in regard to changed working arrangements. In 1997, the allowance was the subject of a claim and was referred to an Arbitrator. Following a recommendation by the Arbitrator, the allowance was increased to £2,200 per annum (the allowance is now worth €3,616). The Union's claim is that, while increases under the National Agreements have been applied to the allowance, special increases, e.g. benchmarking, have not been applied.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commissions and two conciliation conferences took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 3rd of April, 2003, in accordance with Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 10th of July, 2003, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. In his recommendation in 1997 the Arbitrator stated"any increase due to this Allowance should be added to the new Allowance on a proportionate basis and should continue to do so". Management has not applied the above.
2. In January, 1997, the allowance was worth 11% of the basic pay for staff nurses and 9.9% of basic pay for C.N.M.II. Currently the allowance is worth 10.4% and 8.5% respectively.
3. The issue has been before the Court on a number of occasions previously and in LCR 3088 and LCR 7141 the Court found in favour of the Union.
4. 1. The claim is cost increasing and is debarred by the National Agreements.
2. As part of overall pay policy, allowance are increased in line with general pay round increases. Special increases do not normally apply to allowances unless such provisions are specifically part of an agreement.
3.The purpose of the allowance is to reflect the changed working arrangements arising from the transfer of services to community settings. Compensation for loss of premium earnings on transferring to the community took the form of a once-off lump sum.
It is noted that the allowance at issue in this case replaced and subsumed an allowance which was adjustable to reference to all movements in basic pay. It is further noted that the agreement concluded between the parties in October, 1997, is silent on the question of how future increases in the new allowance are to be calculated.
In the Court's view, had the employers intended to depart from the method of adjustment previously agreed in respect of the old allowance they should have so stipulated in the 1997 agreement. The absence of any such stipulation created a reasonable expectation that the arrangements in place in respect of the allowance being replaced would continue.
Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, the Court is of the view that the Union's claim is reasonable and that it should be conceded.
The Court recommends accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th July, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.