INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE - WESTERN REGION
- AND -
PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION (PNA)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Compensation based on average night duty.
2. The Union's claim is on behalf of a group of Psychiatric Nurses and relates to access of night duty. In 1997, following the issue of LCR15450, 1,700 temporary nurses were converted to permanent posts by means of a confined competition. In 2002/03, SIPTU, on behalf of two nurses, took a case to the Rights Commissioner regarding their equal right to night duty as their male counterparts. (These two nurses later left SIPTU and joined the PNA). The two nurses lost the case but claim that they were not aware that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation had issued and could not appeal it within the 42 days allowed. The Union's claim is threefold:-
(1) On behalf of the two nurses mentioned above for access to night duty while temporary - the Union quantifies the claim as €2,759.78 for one nurse and €2,477.13 for the second nurse,
(2) On behalf of other temporary nurses not covered by the Rights Commissioner's recommendation - approximately €2,000 each, and
(3) On behalf of nurses who became permanent in 1997/98 - the Union reckons their loss at €3,609 per annum each.
The HSE's case is that the issue of night duty was settled (along with a number of other issues) by an agreement in 1995.
The Union referred the case to the Labour Court on the 2nd of March, 2005, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th of February, 2006, in Castlebar. The Union agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The two nurses were not informed of the Rights Commissioner's recommendation. Had they known the outcome they would have appealed it. Under a 1979 agreement they had a legitimate expectation that they should not be left in temporary long-term positions.
2.There is no disagreement between the Union and management that female nurses were treated less favourably than male nurses in Castlebar. Temporary male comparators were rostered on night duty the same as permanent male staff.
4. 1. Management has had trouble with this claim as the Union did not identify on whose behalf the claim is submitted.
2. The two nurses were employed on a temporary basis until 1998 and worked night duty on an "if and when required" basis. They suffered no loss of earnings.
3.The two nurses did not appeal the Rights Commissioner's recommendation. It was not up to management to inform them that the recommendation had issued.
4.Management's proposals of 1995 (including the allocation of night duty) were accepted in full and final settlement by the Union.
The case came before the Court by way of a reference under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. Accordingly, the Court must have regard to the accepted standards of good industrial relations practice in forming its opinion on the merits of the case.
The issues giving rise to the dispute are governed by a collective agreement concluded in 1995, the terms of which are clearly applicable to the claimants. The application of that agreement has since been modified to take account of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001, and the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003. However, no issue under either Act arises for consideration in this referral having regard to the basis upon which this case is before the Court.
The Court is fully satisfied that the employer adhered fully to the relevant terms of the 1995 agreement at all times material to these claims. In so doing, the employer acted in a manner consistent with good industrial relations practice and cannot be faulted by the Court. It follows that the claims presented by the Union are without merit and the Court cannot recommend their concession.
The Court recommends accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th February, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.