INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ST. JAMES'S HOSPITAL
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Claim by the Union for the upgrading of two workers.
2. The Union's claim is for the upgrading of the posts of Engineering Officer and Energy Services Officer in St James's Hospital. Both officers are currently at Grade 7 level and are seeking an upgrading to Grade 8. The Engineering Officer and the Energy Services Officer submitted an application for job evaluation in 1996. This was eventually rejected by the Department of Health and Children in 1998 on the basis that the grade of Engineering Officer was a national grade, particularly prevalent in the Eastern Health Board and consequently could not be up-graded without national implications. In the period 2001 to 2003 discussions took place between the HSEA and IMPACT with reference to the re-grading of the grades of members of the Maintenance Supervisory Staff Association, which represented technical staff in areas other than the Eastern Health Board and the Dublin Associated Training Hospitals ( DATHS). Over this period these grades were up-graded nationally with the Grades of Maintenance Officer moving from 6 to7 and the Grade of Engineering Officer moving from 7 to 8. Subsequent to this, discussions were entered into between the HSEA and IMPACT with regard to technical staff in the Eastern Health Board Area. This resulted in Engineering Officers grades in the EHB being up-graded from Grade 7 to Grade 8. As the DATHS Hospitals were the only remaining group outstanding nationally IMPACT entered into discussions with HSEA to look at the re-grading of the Engineering Officer grade in this area. An application to implement the re-grading of the Engineering Officer and Energy Services Officer posts within the St James's Hospital was made by the Union in January, 2004. On the 25th February, 2004 the HSEA issued a letter to all the Dublin Hospitals recommending that Engineering posts of various titles presently at Grade 7, including the Grade of Engineering Officer were to be upgraded to Grade 8. The Union submitted a claim for the upgrading of the claimants' posts. 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 3rd August, 2005 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 9th November, 2005.
3. 1. On the 21st January, 2004 the Management was made aware by the Union that the grade of Engineering Officer had been regraded nationally to Grade 8 and requested that the posts of Engineering Officer and Energy Services Officer be upgraded accordingly. Rather than implement the upgrading, within a two week period of receiving this information, the Hospital decided to re-organise its technical functions and amalgamated various departments into one larger department. Assurances were given that the restructuring would not inhibit the upgrading of the claimants.
2. The Hospital then challenged the HSEA on its letter of recommendation dated 22nd February, 2004 and submitted the new structure and the new title of the new post to the HSEA as its existing management structure, in the full knowledge that this information did not reflect the existing structure within the Hospital and that the new structure was officially in dispute with the Union. The management structure of technical personnel as submitted by the Hospital was not in existence at the time of receipt of the original HSEA letter dated 25th February, 2004.
3. The Union believes that the HSEA was then coerced by the Hospital to state that its letter of 22nd February, 2004, recommending the upgrading of the Engineering Officer Grades did not apply to St James's Hospital. As a result every other grade of Engineering Officer within the Health Service has been upgraded from Grade 7 to Grade 8 with the exception of the Engineering Officer and the Energy Services Officer within St James's Hospital. The Union is seeking the up-grading of the Engineering Officer and the Energy Services Officer posts to Grade 8 level and that the up-grading be retrospective to the date of the HSEA letter of 25th February, 2004.
4. 1. The HSEA letter of 25th February, 2004 referred to the Technical Services Manager Post and not the Engineering Officer Post. The HSEA made the upgrade conditional on "the position in each hospital (having) overall responsibility for the Technical Services function" and "with a reporting relationship to a Senior Manager". Neither of these criteria are met by the claimants thus negating their claim. The HSEA letter further stated that the upgrading of the Technical Services Manager grade "was not intended that such a regrading would result in any consequential claim, which may now in fact arise in your hospital".
2. Management rejects the Union claim that the role of the Engineering Officer was diminished by way of a reorganisation in January, 2004, which included the appointment of a Technical Services Manager who is classed as Grade 8 and that this was done deliberately to block the Engineering Officer obtaining an upgrade. The responsibility attached to the Engineering Officer post and the post holder's job description has not changed as a result of this reorganisation. There is no diminution of the post.
3. The Energy Services Officer's claim for regrading is based on the alleged link between this post and that of the Engineering Officer. Management does not recognise that such a link exists. The Energy Services Officer is an almost unique post and where a comparator exists within the DATHS, the St James's Hospital post is graded significantly higher.
4. Both the Engineering Officer and Energy Services Officer within St James's Hospital are graded at the same level or above compared to their colleagues in the DATHS. The HSEA correspondence shows that in their view the Agreement reached for Maintenance Officers in ERHA does not, or never was, intended to apply to the Engineering Officer and Energy Services Officer of St James's Hospital.
Having considered the submissions, written and oral, of the parties, it is the view of the Court that the Union's claim must be considered primarily in the light of :
(1) the correspondence from the Department of Health and Children and overall impressions which clearly looked favourably on the regrading claim
(2) the exchange of correspondence given by Management prior to February, 2004.
(3) the letter dated 25th February, 2004 from the HSEA which states (inter alia)
"Over the past 1/2 years, Technical Maintenance and Engineering Officers in the Health Boards have been regraded to the level of Grade V111. These posts were not covered under the clerical /admin job evaluation scheme. It is the view of the HSEA that the position of Technical Services Manager in your hospital should be regularised in this context."
The Court accordingly recommends the concession of the Union's claim (in these unique cases and without creating a precedent ) with effect from the date of the HSEA letter i.e. 25th February, 2004.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th November, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.