INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HSE DUBLIN NORTH EAST
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Failure of the Employer to honour the terms of an Agreement.
2. In 2002 an agreement was reached between the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the HSE Dublin North East and the Unions in relation to the workload measurement for Community Welfare Officers (the Workloads Agreement). Subsequently the Employer informed the Unions that due to the introduction of the staff ceiling by the Department of Health it was unable to honour the Agreement. The Unions are seeking that the agreement be honoured. 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 4th January, 2006, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Court hearing was held on the 4th May, 2006.
3. 1. The Employer has agreed that it is in breach of the agreement and cited the ceilings imposed as the reason for its inability to comply. This position is unacceptable and untenable in the long term. The use of a blunt beaurocratic decision is not the way to provide an essential public service.
2. The Department of Health and Children which has taken this decision is not the primary source of funding for the Community Welfare Services. The Department of Social and Family Affairs provides nearly 100% of the funding and the Unions understand that it is in agreement with the implementation of the Workloads Agreement.
4. 1. On foot of the government directive staff ceilings were allocated in respect of each service in 2003. The Community Welfare Service was treated no differently than to any other service within the former Northern Area Health Board in this regard. The service is currently operating at slightly over its allocated ceiling.
2. The Employer is making every effort to honour the commitment given to implement the Workloads Agreement and is engaged with the Unions in trying to alleviate the staff difficulties encountered. Currently there is a joint review process under way. Management considers that should the review process go according to projections and cooperation be received by the Unions on the projected configuration proposals then the Workloads Agreement may be fully adhered to, in accordance with the 2005 year end figures.
The Court has consistently taken the view that when parties conclude a collective agreement they are bound to honour its terms for the duration specified or, in the absence off a defined term, until it is voluntarily renegotiated. While circumstances may change during the currency of any collective agreement the Court has never accepted that this could operate so as to release either party from their commitments under the agreement or to provide justification for a repudiation of the agreement. The Court can see no justifiable reason as to why it should depart from its established position in the present case.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the HSE should honour the terms of the agreement on Community Welfare Services Workloads unless and until it is renegotiated with the relevant trade unions.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
15th May, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.