INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
IRISH NURSES ORGAINISATION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Pay rate.
2. The 1997 Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry in to the Blood Transfusion Service Board recommended the establishment of a procedure for the reporting of abnormal reactions to blood and blood products. In 1999 the Department of Health and Children recommended that individual hospitals should consider the appointment of staff to carry out these duties and it is arising from this initiative that the post of Haemoviligance Officer evolved.
Although the post ofHaemoviligance Officer was open to staff from either a nursing or medical scientist background, successful applicants stayed within the grading structure appropriate to their background. Accordingly, a nurse who was a successful applicant was graded a Clinical Nurse Manager 2 and a Medical Scientist who was a successful applicant was graded a Senior Medical Scientist. This meant, however, that a Haemoviligance Officer with a nursing background worked longer hours for less pay that a Haemoviligance Officer with a medical scientist background. Prior to 2007, over 90% of Haemoviligance Officers had a nursing background.
In April 2006, the Union wrote to Management asking thatHaemoviligance Officers with nursing backgrounds be given the same terms and conditions as Haemoviligance Officer with medical scientist backgrounds. In January 2007, Management informed the Union that all future appointments to Haemoviligance Officer posts would be given the same terms and conditions, that of Clinical Nursing Manager 2.
This 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 4th October 2007 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 7th February 2008, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1.Haemoviligance Officers play a vital role in ensuring that the saftey and quality of the storage and administration of blood components and blood products in the acute hospital sector.
2.It is iniquitous that Haemoviligance Officers with a nursing background have the same duties, functions and responsibilities as Haemoviligance Officers with a medical scientist background, yet are required to work four additional hours per week for €1,000-€9,000 less per annum.
3.Management's decision that all future appointments to Haemoviligance Officer posts would be given the same terms and conditions, that of Clinical Nursing Manager 2, is an attempt to adopt the lowest common denominator for the post's terms and condiions.
4. 1. The difference in terms and conditions arose from ad hoc arrangements made during the initial evolutionary phase of the post in 1999, in recogition of the different working background of the firstHaemoviligance Officers.
2. Very fewHaemoviligance Officers, and none appointed since 2007, have the superior terms and conditions of a Senior Medical Scientist.
3.As this claim is cost-increasing it is precluded under 'Towards 2016'.
4. Discussions are taking place nationally to enable a reduction in working hours for all nurses, from 39 to 37.5 hours per week, on a cost neutral basis with effect from 1st June 2008. This will benefit theHaemoviligance Officers with a nursing background.
The claim before the Court concerns the rate of pay and hours of work for Haemovigilance Officers. The Union are seeking an alignment in pay and hours of work, for those Haemovigilance Officers with a Nursing background, in order to bring them in line with a small number of colleagues, also employed as Haemovigilance Officers on higher rates and shorter hours. The latter were previously employed as Senior Medical Laboratory Scientists.
HSEA told the Court that the difference in pay and hours arose in the first instance because there was no nationally agreed terms, consequently each hospital made its own arrangements. Secondly, newly appointed Haemovigilance Officers were being treated differently due to the conditions, which applied, in their previous roles, which were then transferred to their new position. It held the view that the higher pay and shorter hours were maintained on a “red-circling” basis to a very small number of employees. It also submitted to the Court that the claim was debarred under “Towards 2016”.
On 31st January 2007, the HSE-EA advised all employers that for the future there should be uniform terms and conditions for Haemovigilance Officers, and these should be in line with those obtaining for Clinical Nurse Manager II with a 39 hour week, irrespective of their previous professional background.
Having considered the positions of both parties, the Court finds it most unsatisfactory that no agreed terms and conditions were set down nationally when the grade was first introduced in 1999. The evolution of the grade has given rise to an unfairness, which needs to be addressed. The Court recommends that the issue of hours of work is one that should be addressed as part of the overall examination of hours of work for Nursing Grades.
The Court is satisfied that the Senior Medical Scientist (with FAMLS) grade was paid on a “red-circling” basis to a small number of Haemovigilance Officers. Furthermore, the Court is satisfied that when account is taken of the reason for that level of pay to those Officers, there is no justification for the application of that salary level to the Haemovigilance Officers’ grade. Having considered the matter, the Court is of the view the appropriate salary level should be in line with the Clinical Nurse Manager II/Senior Medical Scientist (without FAMLS) grades. Therefore, on the basis of this conclusion the Court recommends that the parties should meet and agree an appropriate scale for the grade of Haemovigilance Officers’ grade, which the Court recommends should apply from 1st February 2007.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7 March, 2008.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jonathan McCabe, Court Secretary.