INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HEALTH SERVICE EMPLOYERS
(REPRESENTED BY HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE)
- AND -
PSYCHIATRIC NURSES' ASSOCIATION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Application of Code of Practice.
2. Following the ratification of Sustaining Progress, discussions commenced, on a framework for dispute resolution, between the health service employers (HSE) and health service unions affiliated to the Health Service National Joint Council (NJC). The Psychiatric Nurses' Association (PNA) were denied membership of the NJC and were provided with a parallel process.
At the first meeting with the PNA draft copies of the proposed Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure were presented and the Union proposed a number of changes which were accepted. Later the PNA was presented with a Final Agreed Code of Practice for the maintenance of essential services, which had been agreed at the NJC, and were required to sign up. No opportunity was given to the PNA to negotiate or agree a Voluntary Code.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 21st December, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 24th March, 2005.
3. 1.The Code of Practice has been agreed with Trade Unions/Staff Associations representative of 95% of the health service workforce.
2. To agree a different arrangement with another staff association would inevitably lead to the unravelling of the deal agreed at NJC level.
3. Sustaining Progress, which has been accepted by the Union, lays major emphasis on the need for a stable industrial relations climate, particularly in areas of public service that provide essential services to the public which are not obtainable from other sources.
4. 1. The Union has fulfilled it's obligations under Sustaining Progress by agreeing to negotiate a "Voluntary Code of Practice".
2. The Union cannot operate on the basis of centralised control. It is mandated by the express permission and approval of the membership.
3. The Union has agreed, that in the event of any national dispute, it will adhere to the three week notice period which the other unions agreed to at NJC level.
In May 2004 an agreement was reached on a Framework of Dispute Resolution in the Health Services between the Health Services Agency and the Health Service Trade Unions, but with the exception of PNA, as it is not an affiliate union of the NJC. The Court is of the view that the exclusion of PNA from the negotiations is regrettable and is not conducive to harmonious industrial relations in the health services.
The Health Service Employers have asked the Court to endorse the provisions of the agreement in full. The Court has no difficulty in endorsing the agreement as a constructive, reasonable and progressive agreement to cover Dispute Resolution in the Health Services, however, as the PNA were not party to that agreement the Court cannot impose this agreement on the PNA.
PNA identified their issue of concern in relation to accepting the agreement, which relates to the giving of notice of industrial action. It has accepted that no industrial action will take place prior to the expiry of three weeks written notice in the event of a national dispute involving other health service trade unions.
The Court recommends that negotiations should continue between the Health Service employers and the PNA, until a voluntary code is finalised.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
31st March, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Madelon Geoghegan, Court Secretary.