INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
OUR LADY'S HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN, CRUMLIN
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Car parking.
2. The dispute, concerning approximately 500 nurses, relates to the decision by Management to increase car parking charges in the visitors' car park. The Hospital operates a number of car parks:-
1. The rear car park has 195 places on a first come basis and is free for staff only. The research car park has 59 spaces and is reserved for staff.
2. Another car park with 150 spaces is also staff dedicated. This car park is always filled by staff who pay an annual fee of €100.00. This is referred to as "Co- Tag" car parking. Co-Tag spaces are made available on a staff seniority basis. Hospital consultants and a small number of senior management staff have automatic access to Co-Tag parking.
3. The third visitor's car park is at the centre of this dispute. This car park has 125 spaces for visitors but staff also avail of this car park during the day when there are no places in the other car parks. (An adjoining area provides an additional 62 spaces for Co-Tag parking). Earlier in the year the Hospital introduced Euro Car Parks Limited to manage it's car park on account of on going difficulties associated with demand exceeding supply of spaces. On 24th February 2003 the €2.00 visitors' car parking charge was increased to €6.00 for all users.
The Union, on behalf of nurses, claims that the introduction by Management, without discussion, of increased car parking fees in the visitor's car park should not be implemented and the increase should be reimbursed to nurses. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held but agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court in December, 2003 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 19th March, 2004.
3. 1. The maximum cost to nurse employees for car parking, up to February, 2003 was €2.00 per day. The Hospital has now introduced an added cost to nursing staff coming to work. Consultation with staff unions did not occur prior to this charge being introduced. Management's decision is contrary to paragraph 21:12 of the Sustaining Progress Agreement.
2. Non-officer grades at the hospital, and in other Dublin hospitals, are in receipt of an hour's pay per day for travel and parking. This is a fixed cost paid to the staff regardless of their attendance or otherwise.
3. All hospitals have a reduced rate for parking for staff. Some provide free parking for staff.
4. The current number of car parking spaces available to all staff is 280. The Union requested a figure of grade by grade allocation of these spaces in May 2003. It has not been afforded to the Union.
5. The nurses are the single largest group of workers at the hospital. Providing facilities for them to park at work is not a priority with hospital management.
6. Increasing car parking costs for nurses and not consulting them prior to the introduction of the increase is demonstrating unfair procedures and discrimination. The Union seeks a return to the maximum payment of €10.00 per week and seeks compensation for any payments made in excess of this figure to date.
4. 1.The Hospital readily admits that 600 car parking spaces is insufficient but every effort is being made to increase this number and manage the spaces as efficiently and equitably as possible. A committee has been set up and nursing staff will be formally invited to nominate a representative. Initiatives taken to date include, creating more car parking spaces and designating a higher proportion for staff, new ID permits were issued to staff to ensure only staff park in staff spaces, providing off-site car parking at Iveagh Grounds at a reduced rate of €6.00 per week, cycling and other initiatives.
2.At present, 76% of all car parking spaces on the Hospital's site are dedicated staff car parking spaces. If the Hospital subsidised staff to park in the visitors' spaces, this would effectively mean reducing the number of visitors' spaces even further.
3.If any element of this claim was conceded there would be subsequent claims from other unions and staff at the Hospital. There would also be serious implications for other hospitals as a precedent would be set.
4.Staff do not have an automatic right to park their cars on hospital premises as part of their contract or terms and conditions of employment.
It is noted that the Hospital provides a significant number of car parking spaces for exclusive use by staff either free or for a nominal cost. In the case of staff members who did not obtain access to one of those spaces the visitors car park could be used at the rate applicable to all other users of this facility. Whilst the rates charged by this facility have increased significantly those who cannot access a dedicated staff parking space can continue to use the visitors car park by paying the commercial rate.
In the circumstances of this case the Court does not accept that the Hospital is obliged to provide additional car parking at subsidised or reduced rates in addition to the dedicated staff spaces already provided.
Accordingly, the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.