INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HEALTH SERVICES EXECUTIVE (H.S.E.) - SOUTH
- AND -
TECHNICAL, ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. The dispute before the Court refers to benchmarking payment due to 12 electricians employed by the HSE (South) in University College Hospital, Cork.
As part of work reorganisation the hospital authorities directed that small non essential electric light bulbs could be replaced as required by non electrician staff. The Union objected, maintaining that this was electricians work and should remain so. Management contended that this would add considerably to the HSE costs as it would require an electrician to attend on overtime to change a bulb in a bedside lamp for example.
Management acknowledged that some bulb replacement in certain specified areas, would need to be carried out by electricians.
The Union are not prepared to consider any changing of any bulbs by non electricians. On the basis of the refusal of the Union the HSE has withheld payment outstanding under the parallel benchmarking agreement.
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 29th July, 2006 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 28th February, 2007.
3.1 The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 and the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, 1993 support the non devolution of core work principle for the reasons outlined in the Regulations.
2. The withholding of the retrospection, pay increases and bonus payments to the workers concerned is totally unacceptable. The Union contends that the workers have fully complied with the local agreement and national agreements, in spirit, intent and application.
3. The Unions contends that it is important to note that this is not and never was an issue of the merits of who may or may not be involved in changing light bulbs but rather an adherence in good faith to the principles of what has been signed up to regarding the Benchmarking Agreement signed in Connolly Hall, Cork on the 18th November, 2005.
4. Local Management singling out the Electricians in the Cork University Hospital in this regard is in breach of the M.T.M.G. Agreement and is totally unacceptable.
4.1 Management stated that Sustaining Progress identified the requirement of a performance verification process to allow the relevant Secretary General of the Department of Health & Children sanction payment of the identified pay increases as they fall due.
2. Fundamental to this process is the formal identification and recording of full compliance with the Change/Modernisation Agenda. Part of the reporting structure requires management to identify specific functions that have not been complied with as part of the overall change programme.
3. Management has repeatedly sought agreement with the Union for full implementation of the Change/Modernisation Agenda.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Union’s claim for monies due to four electricians under the terms of the Craftworkers Parallel Benchmarking Agreement and Sustaining Progress. As part of the work reorganisation, Hospital authorities sought the electricians to engage on the Change/Modernisation Agenda of the agreement and directed that certain electric light bulbs should be replaced as required by non-electrician staff. The Union objected maintaining that this was electrician’s work and should remain so.
Having considered the Change/Modernisation Agenda, which is an integral part of the Craftworkers Parallel Benchmarking agreement, the Court is of the view that it was not unreasonable to expect electricians to co-operate with the requirement sought by management. Therefore, the Court recommends that the parties should meet to agree a protocol on the changing of light bulbs to be carried out without the involvement of electricians.
When agreement has been reached and the HSE South is satisfied that the terms of the Change/Modernisation Agenda has been met, the Court recommends that the HSE South take the necessary action to ensure that payments are made in accordance with the Agreements.
The Court so recommends
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.