INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE - MIDLANDS AREA
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Re-Location payment.
2. The Employer is in the process of closing Lough Sheever Centre Mullingar and St Peter's Centre, Castlepollard hospital units for people with intellectual disabilities. The clients will be housed in community houses throughout the Westmeath/ Longford areas. The process has commenced with some of the community houses currently operational. The Union has cooperated with the changes while pursuing claims in relation to a number of outstanding issues which are ongoing. The present claim is for a relocation allowance in respect of 160 workers, consisting of nurses and care assistants. 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 on the 11th August, 2004 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held in Mullingar on the 15th February, 2005.
3. 1. Some workers will have to travel up to an extra fifty miles per day. It is unfair to expect them to do so without compensation.
2. The claimants should be treated similarly to colleagues in the psychiatric service who were transferred to community based work and were compensated.
3. It is accepted good industrial relations practice that where additional travel is introduced by employers, they pay an allowance to compensate for the extra cost and inconvenience.
4. As there is limited public transport available in the area workers will have to provide their own transport and have the ongoing cost of maintenance.
4. 1. The claim is cost increasing and is precluded under clause 19.6 of the Sustaining Progress Agreement. Management seeks the cooperation of workers with the transfer programme in the context of change/modernisation flexibility and cooperation expected and comprehended by SP and Public Service Benchmarking Agreements.
2. There is minimum disruption to staff. The transfer of service, in some instances may result in staff travelling shorter distances to work.
3. Staff transferring will continue to receive a location based allowance of €1,678 p.a., opportunity for travel and subsistence and increased access to night duty premiums. Existing staff have been afforded an opportunity to express a preference to transfer to the Community or remain in St Peter's Centre or Lough Sheever.
The Court has considered the submissions of the parties.
(a) the fact that some staff may not be adversely affected by the change in location
(b) the fact that nurses are in receipt of location allowance (and will probably continue to be in receipt of the allowance)
(c) the efforts of the Employer to attempt to match staff, as far as possible, with their locations of choice in the relocation
(d) the fact that, at present, staff can choose not to relocate
(e) the provisions of "Sustaining Progress"
The Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd February, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.