SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ST. JAMES HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
20 GENERAL/CRAFT OPERATIVES
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
& CONNECT THE UNION)
1.Introduction Of Handheld Units By St James Hospital
The Court notes that the issue giving rise to the current dispute arises from the employer’s proposal to introduce Handheld PDA technology to 20 Craft and operative maintenance personnel.
The Trade Union submitted that the issue before the Court is not about the operation or the introduction of the handheld devices but is about a decent share of the savings that will be delivered on an ongoing basis.
The Trade Unions advised the Court that Unions representing staff in several hospitals are watching this dispute and are awaiting the outcome of the matter by way of Recommendation by the Court. No details were supplied to the Court.
The employer has submitted that the trade unions and the employer are party to successive public sector pay agreements which commit the parties to engagement with new and emerging technology, software, mobile applications and other tools in ways that are productive for employees, employers and the public.
The Trade Unions do not dispute the provisions of national public sector agreements but submit that workers should share in any productivity gains arising from the introduction of the technology envisaged by the terms of such agreements.
The Court is concerned that it is being asked by the trade union side to interpret national public sector pay agreements in the absence of any submission that the parties to those agreements have engaged with the matter through their jointly constructed oversight arrangements. Neither party has been able to put before the Court any element of a public service agreement which provides for a sharing of savings arising from the introduction and operation of technology of the sort to which the agreements seem to commit the parties.
Against that background it is difficult for the Court to import to those national agreements an understanding that implementation of technology will result in a sharing of savings.
The Court notes that the employer in this case has submitted that no savings will arise from the introduction or operation of this technology and has also submitted that the workers concerned will continue to carry out the same tasks as they have always done but will use a different means of doing those tasks.
In all of the circumstances the Court recommends that the parties engage through their joint oversight arrangements to resolve any disagreement between them as regards the meaning of their collective agreements which appear to commit both parties to engagement with new and emerging technology, software, mobile applications and other tools in ways that are productive for employees, employers and the public.
The Court so recommends
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to David Campbell, Court Secretary.