INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1); INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT; 1990
HSE - DUBLIN MID LEINSTER
- AND -
PSYCHIATRIC NURSES' ASSOCIATION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
IRISH NATIONAL TEACHERS ORGANISATION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Location allowance, community allowance, assimilation to new scale, non-application of relocation allowance.
2. The dispute arose because of the re-location of the Child / Psychiatric Unit from Courthall and the subsequent re-location of staff to new locations in the community.
Briefly, the Unions' four claims are as follows:-
The Unions are seeking the application of the "Castlerea Formula" to nursing grades not covered by the Formula i.e. in this case two non-Psychiatric Nurses.
The allowance, formally known as a long-stay unit allowance, was paid to all nurses in Courthall. The Unions are seeking that it should apply to five nurses who will be affected by the closure of the Courthall Unit.
3.Assimilation to the new scale
The Unions claim that different criteria apply to a Registered Nurse in Intellectual Disability (RNID) than to Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPN), even though in the present dispute they will both be doing similar work in the new location.
The Unions' case is that re-location allowances have been applied in numerous cases and not just in the Psychiatric Services (the Unions supplied details to the Court). They do not regard the move from Courthall as normal ongoing change as claimed by Management.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. Labour Court hearings took place on the 13th of February, 2007, and 18th of May, 2007.
3. 1.Community allowance:
The claim concerns two workers. All nurses in the unit provided the same service as RPNs so there can be no justification or denying them access to the Castlerea Formula.
The claim applies to five nurses who enjoyed the benefits of the allowance up to their compulsory re-deployment. The Unions believe that the allowance should be maintained.
3.Assimilation to the new scale:
There is clearly discrimination in the different criteria applying to RNIDs and RPNs, e.g. an RNID nurse on the 10th point of the staff nurse scale moves to the 1st point of the promotional scale whereas her RPN colleague would move to the 8th point. The RNID nurse will be paid €6647 less per year than an RPN nurse in their new posts despite these posts being the same.
What has happened in Courthall is no different than what happened in St. Brendan's Hospital moving to Connolly Hospital or in General Hospital Services moving from Cashel to Clonmel, except that Cashed staff had a choice to stay whereas Courthall staff do not. Despite this Cashel staff still received a re-location allowance.
4. 1.Community allowance:
There is no provision to extend the payment of the community allowance to any other grade apart from RPNs. The claim is cost increasing and conceding it would have huge national implications.
This claim is a nurse-specific issue. Nurses are paid a location allowance subject to meeting specified criteria (details supplied to the Court ). An individual in receipt of such an allowance cannot bring that allowance to a location which does not attract the allowance.
3.Assimilation to new scale:
The RPNs and the RNID were appointed in line with the correct Department of Health circulars.
Management believes that the Unions' claim is covered by the National Agreements in relation to ongoing change. The Unions' reference to the Cashel to Clonmel transfer is inappropriate as the circumstances differ dramatically.
The case before the Court concerns the Unions’ claims arising from the closure of the Courthall Unit, the resulting transfer of Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Services and the subsequent re-location of staff to new locations in the community. The claims are as follows:
Non-Application of the Community Allowance
The Unions sought application of the Community Allowance as provided under the “Castlerea Formula” to nursing grades not covered by the formula. The allowance provides for compensation to registered psychiatric nurses (RPN) only, for loss of access to premium earnings on an ongoing basis.
The claim for the application of the Community Allowance concerns two non-RPN nurses - one CNM2 and one RNID staff nurse. The Unions were of the view that the claimants should receive the allowance, due to the unique circumstances arising for the non-RPNs required to transfer.
Management stated that the Community Allowance was paid to those nurses (registered psychiatric nurses) affected by the claim who were entitled to receive it in accordance with the “Castlerea Formula” and that any further concession of the claim to other grades would have significant knock-on implications. It also stated that those members of staff who incurred a loss of income as a result of the transfer of services were compensated in accordance with the agreed formula in such circumstances.
Having considered the submissions of both parties, the Court does not recommend in favour of extending the Community Allowance element of the “Castlerea Formula “ to those nurses not covered by the agreed formula and, accordingly, rejects the Unions' claim.
Loss of Location Allowance
The Unions sought the application of the Location Allowances as previously applied to five nurses affected by the transfer of services. The allowance had been applied to all nurses in Courthall Unit as it met the criteria for application. Management rejected the claim on the basis that the areas where the nurses have been transferred to (with the exclusion of one nurse) are not areas where the Location Allowance applies and that any concession of the claim would have significant knock-on implications.
The Unions drew the Court’s attention to a “Review of the Application of the Location Allowance within the Mental Health Services” and referred to a letter dated 15th October, 2003, from the HSE to PNA and SIPTU trade unions setting out the management review group’s proposals. These state,inter alia,
- “Where the operation of a community residential facility is such that, in effect, itprovides a real alternativeto the admission of patients to an acute in-patient unit, the payment of the location allowance to nursing staff in that unit may be considered.”
The proposals outlined the criteria which need to be met before consideration could be given to extending the allowance in these circumstances.
The Court notes that there was no agreement between the parties on whether all of the criteria apply in the case of the five nurses who are party to this claim. Therefore, the Court recommends that an independent evaluation should be carried out to assess the situation to determine whether the conditions necessary for “consideration” of the claim apply in this case. If the results of the evaluation exercise deem it necessary, the matter may be the subject of further discussions between the parties.
Assimilation to the New Scale
Four nurses were successful in being promoted to Clinical Nurse Specialists posts. One of the four – a Registered Nurse in Intellectual Disability (RNID) sought similar assimilation onto the promotional scale as applied in the case of the three successful Registered Psychiatric Nurses.
Management explained to the Court that the difference in assimilation was due to different nationally agreed criteria set down. The criteria for RPNs are in accordance with Circular dated 12th March, 1967, and for Registered Nurse in Mental Hospital by Circular 10/71.
Having regard to the terms of the national agreements on assimilation for the two categories, the Court does not recommend in favour of the Unions' claim.
Non-Application of Re-location Allowance
The Unions sought payment of a re-location allowance on behalf of 13 staff required to transfer to new locations in the community in October, 2004. Management submitted that the change in circumstances came about due to service provision issues which resulted in it having no alternative but to discontinue the service, and held that such change came within the terms of Towards 2016.
Having considered the submissions of both parties, the Court is satisfied that the circumstances in this case places the claim outside the provisions of “normal ongoing change” as provided for in Towards 2016.
The Court recommends in the exceptional circumstances of this claim that those claimants, who had no alternative but to leave the Courthall Unit, who co-operated with the closure arrangements and who are currently employed in the provision of the services in various locations in the community, should be paid a once-off lump sum of €4,000. The Unions identified one employee with exceptionally long service (seventeen years' service) and the Court recommends that in view of her length of service she should be paid a once off lump sum of €4,500.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.