10 January 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

HSE pays women less

THE Labour Court in Dublin has this week ruled against the Health Service Executive and found that it has been discriminating against women by paying female nurse managers less than male nurse managers for doing the same job. The HSE will now have to give over €2 million to the female nurse managers discriminated against as compensatory back-pay.
The Irish Nurses’ Organisation has outlined that it believes up to 200 assistant directors in public health should qualify for this back-pay even though the original Labour Court case referred specifically to 33 women only.
There are also further serious implications for the HSE in relation to 3,000 nurse managers who are currently being paid less than others for doing jobs of equal value, according to INO Deputy General Secretary Dave Hughes. Hughes said that the Labour court judgment vindicates the view of his union that “nurse pay rates are depressed simply as a consequence of the female domination of the nursing and midwifery professions”.
Last year, nurses were told by the Government that their demands for a 10.5 per cent pay increase would be dealt with by the benchmarking process. Nurses are now disappointed that the benchmarking body did not unearth the high levels of gender-based discrimination in the HSE. The INO may bring a legal challenge against the next benchmarking report if their concerns are not addressed in a satisfactory manner.

Employee drug tests in doubt

THE Labour Court has thrown doubts upon the automatic right of companies to drug-test their employees after two toxicology experts disagreed on the test results of a worker on the LUAS light rail system in Dublin.
The worker had been sacked in September 2006 after two years of employment in a “safety critical role”. At all times the worker denied using any drugs and his case was even supported by the European Drug Testing Society.
A Technical Engineering and Electrical Union expert argued on behalf of the worker that the sample was 50 per cent below the level required for a positive test and could only be viewed as a negative result, in which case the worker was “wrongly accused and unfairly dismissed”. An expert witness for the company said he was “firm in my position that the result in this case was properly classified as positive”.
The court concluded that where there were such disagreements between experts as to whether the test results were positive or negative that the employee should have been given the benefit of the doubt and should be offered his old job back.


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