INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(2), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
ST. VINCENT'S UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY HSEA)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Sustaining Progress - normal, ongoing change - transfer of St. Camillus Ward to new building.
2. St. Camillus Ward is a 21 bed psychiatric ward located near to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of St. Vincent's Hospital. It is intended to open a new Psychiatric Unit in the Hospital Campus which will amalgamate an existing Unit at Vergemount with St. Camillus Ward. The new Unit, once open will be managed by the East Coast Area Health Board (ECAHB). The building for the new Unit has been completed and is ready for use. Discussions between the Union and the ECAHB are ongoing.
The Union's contends that Management are intent on implementing this move in advance of agreement on the amalgamation of existing services and on the scope and nature of the new psychiatric service. In these circumstances, the Union believes that moving staff to the Unit is premature and inappropriate. The Union is concerned that if this move takes place Management will be under no pressure to reach agreement on the overall amalgamation of services. The Union believe that as the move would be a permanent arrangement it could not be considered normal, ongoing change.
The Company's position is that in common with other hospitals, they are currently experiencing severe difficulties in its A&E Department with significant overcrowding. Management are seeking to transfer the staff and patients of St. Camillus ward to the new building in order to alleviate this overcrowding. It is intended to use the area now occupied by the ward as a step-down facility for patients from A&E who are awaiting admission to other wards. Management maintain that this will significantly improve the quality of care provided to patients.
The issues could not be resolved at local level. The parties agreed to refer the matter to the Labour Court on the 4th October, 2004 in accordance with Section 20(2) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 on the 19th January, 2005 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 15th February, 2005.
3.1 Management insists that the move to St. Camillus ward to the new Unit is normal ongoing change and that staff are obliged to co-operate and if they have objections they should co-operate under protest.
2. The Union believes that Management is in breach of Section 19.6, 19.7 and 19.8 of Sustaining Progress by trying to intimidate staff, by seeking to forcibly open the Unit and by failing to adhere to procedures.
3. For Nurses who move from St. Camillus Ward to the new Unit, this is not normal ongoing change because:
- The move is final;
- Their reporting relationship will change;
- Everything about the way they work, when they work, when they take leave, etc. will be changed.
4. Management have suggested that in co-operating with a move to the new Unit, staffs negotiating rights would not be undermined, but the Union argue that management has shown no interest in negotiating with Staff in St. Camillus; that the current discussions are only as a result of pressure in A&E. Once staff have transferred to the new Unit, Management will have even less interest in these Nurses or their concerns.
4.1 Management is anxious to proceed immediately with the move and contends that the LRC proposal of 13th January, 2005, should be accepted and endorsed as the basis which matters will be advanced.
2. A critical situation currently exists in the A&E Department at St. Vincent's University Hospital. Nursing unions have been to the fore in highlighting A&E difficulties and demanding that these be addressed as a matter of urgency.
3. Since 2002 a joint union/management forum has been meeting under the auspices of the LRC to deal with A&E issues.
4. Every re-assurance has been given to staff in St. Camillus Ward in response to issues of concern identified by the Union. This move will not prejudice their position in respect of further negotiations on the amalgamation of Vergemount and St. Camillus Ward services. These commitments are confirmed in the proposals put to the parties by the LRC on 13th January, 2005.
5. Management contend that the co-operation being sought is consistent with normal ongoing change as outlined in Section 21 of Sustaining Progress and the refusal to work under protest is a breach of that Agreement.
6. The move would significantly enhance the environment and facilities for patients currently in St. Camillus Ward.
The Court has no doubt that the move now proposed does constitute normal ongoing change within the meaning of Sustaining Progress. In reaching this conclusion the Court has taken into account the assurances of management that neither the reporting relationship of staff nor any aspect of their terms and conditions of employment will alter in consequence of this transfer. The Court also notes the assurances of management that if further change is required on the full commissioning of the Unit at issue, this will be subject to negotiation and agreement with PNA.
In these circumstances the Court recommends that the transfer proceed as soon as practicable on the terms proposed by the LRC.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th February, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.