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ERA Rules in Favour of DHBs’ on Life Preserving Services

ERA Rules in Favour of DHBs’ on Life Preserving Services

20 District Health Boards yesterday (23 May 2011) welcomed a decision by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) supporting the DHBs’ interpretation of the legislation when it comes to concluding agreements for the provision of Life Preserving Services (LPS) during strike action.

Concerns were raised by the DHBs last year during the prolonged industrial action being taken by Medical Radiation Technologists (MRTs) represented by the Association of Professional and Executive Employees (APEX).

At the time APEX was delaying confirmation of LPS arrangements pending agreement by DHBs of ancillary issues, including inflated pay rates for striking workers coming off strike to provide life preserving services. The DHBs’ interpretation of the law was that this wasn’t permitted.

“It seemed wrong to us that the union was holding DHBs to ransom over what urgent tests or other diagnostic tools would be available to a patient during industrial action,” DHBs’ spokesperson Karen Roach.

“Going forward, this determination means that patient and clinicians can be assured that there will be no delays in concluding arrangements for the necessary tests and tools to be available in the event of strike action.

“While we are satisfied with the ERA ruling we don’t know yet whether APEX will seek an appeal to the Employment Court or not. It is an unequivocal determination, which may influence their decision in this regard,” Mrs Roach adds.

Background:

The Code of Good Faith for the Public Health Sector provides for an agreement for Life Preserving Services to be concluded between the DHB and the union in the event of industrial action by a workforce.

As part of this process a clinical expert acts as an adjudicator on key issues as defined in the legislation during the industrial action taken by MRTs represented by APEX in 2010.

DHBs and APEX had been in dispute as to what matters a clinical expert should have jurisdiction to consider and this significantly delayed resolution of any disagreement as to the extent of LPS.

The DHBs did not consider that the clinical expert should be expected to get involved in discussions or decision making around the pay rates that striking workers should be paid to come off strike to provide the service.

DHBs asked the Employment Relations Authority to confirm that they were interpreting the legislation correctly.

ENDS

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