Hospital's allowance 'for doing nothing' is revoked
THE Labour Court has 'bid goodnight' to a demand by workers at a major regional hospital that they should continue to be paid a 'twilight' allowance.
UNITE trade union – representing the 22 catering assistants at Waterford Regional Hospital – made the demand that the late evening allowance continue to be paid in spite of the workers in question no longer doing those hours.
The 'twilight' allowance was worth €1,430 per annum to each worker.
As compensation to the workers for the loss of the allowance, the Labour Court has recommended that the workers receive in total €31,460 or €1,430 each in two lump sum payments over a six-month period.
The dispute between UNITE and the Health Service Executive (HSE) arose from the HSE ceasing the payment of the 'twilight' allowance due to the outsourcing of the evening shift to agency workers on April 28, 2013.
According to the Labour Court, the union argued that under a section of the Public Service Agreement (PSA) the payment should continue to be paid to the workers.
However, HSE management pointed out that it was unreasonable to expect payment for a shift that is no longer worked.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and moved to a conference discussion under the Labour Relations Commission.
However, the two parties could not reach agreement and it was referred to the Labour Court.
UNITE argued that the workers had suffered a reduction in wages as a result of the outsourcing of the evening shift.
The union stated that "it is clear that the Public Service Agreement states that such procurement will not result in a worsening of pay rates".
In response, the HSE stated that the decision to outsource the evening shift was not taken lightly but there was no alternative given the reduction in catering staff levels.
The HSE argued: "Twilight hours payment is a premium payment but basic pay has not changed. It is management's position that the move does not worsen rates of pay."
The Labour Court said that it noted that the premium payment was no longer paid as the hours were no longer worked. It followed the compensation formula set out under the Public Service Agreement.
It recommended that 50pc of the identified loss should be paid now with the second half paid at the end of October.