Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Pay Guidelines.


asked the Minister for Labour the impact he believes the Government guidelines on pay, which were announced on 2 April, will have on the state of industrial relations in this country.

Following a series of discussions with the major economic interests on social and economic matters and in particular employment, the Government issued guidelines on pay. In the present economic situation the Government considered it essential to state their views on the criteria to be taken into account by all parties to pay negotiations if moderate pay increases are to be achieved so as to secure a favourable impact on employment.

The Deputy may recall that Government statements on pay were made in the early stages of last two pay rounds. It is my hope that in the emerging round, terms will be agreed with due regard to the need for pursuing and increasing employment and without recourse to industrial conflict.

Will the Minister not agree that in the pay guidelines he referred to the parties to the pay negotiations included those called upon to assist in such negotiations and those called upon to adjudicate on the pay claim? Will the Minister agree that that is regarded as a directive to the Labour Court conciliation councils or others involved in the collective bargaining process and as an interference with free collective bargaining?

I am due to reply to that matter in the next question.

I am referring to the effect of the guidelines on industrial relations. Will the Minister indicate the purpose of the guidelines? Were they in relation to competitiveness, job creation or inflation? Are the guidelines intended to cover all three or any particular one of them? What is the purpose of them?

They were issued with particular emphasis on the question of employment and in an attempt, in the absence of a pay agreement, to establish a frame work or climate within which the most favourable economic conditions would prevail which would maximise the possibilities for containing existing jobs and creating new ones. To that extent the three matters mentioned by the Deputy are inter-connected.

On the question of job creation I should like to state that the Minister in the course of the guidelines referred to the desirability that enterprises with surplus resources should invest such resources in activities which would benefit employment. I presume that means the money saved if employers do not increase pay should be invested in their industry. Is the Minister taking any steps to ensure that if employers save money on the pay issues it will be invested in industry in accordance with the guidelines?

If the Deputy reads the full document he will realise that there is also reference to the call for an adequate disclosure of information between employers and employees which would enable the employees' representatives, the trade unions and the workers directly involved, to identify the surplus capacity that might exist and, in addition, to identify in conjunction with management possibilities for net additional employment creation.

How will the Minister ensure disclosure of information?

The Deputy is referring to what the Government set as guidelines. The Government have given guidelines and it is up to both parties to respond to them at this stage.

There is a new departure in this diktat in that for the first time a statement was issued to the media without any prior consultations with the trade union movement or the employer organisations.

That is a separate question. The question under discussion is about the impact of a certain matter.

Of course it is but surely this is part of the impact? The question refers to the impact the Government guidelines on pay announced on 2 April will have on the state of industrial relations here. My question is relevant to that.

The matter conveyed by the Deputy in his question is not relevant.

It is relevant to the industrial relations situation.

We may differ but I believe it is a separate question.

It is not. Is the Minister not prepared to answer my question? He is sheltering behind the Chair again.


asked the Minister for Labour the impact he believes the Government guidelines on pay, which were announced on 2 April, will have on the independence and operation of the Labour Court.

The Labour Court is an independent body established by statute. The guidelines contain the Government's view as to the criteria which should be taken into account by all those called on to assist in negotiation of claims or to adjudicate on such claims. The Government consider that due weight should be given to these guidelines so that moderate pay increases can be achieved with a resulting favourable impact on employment and inflation. I do not believe that issue of these guidelines will have adverse effects on the independence of operations of the Labour Court.

Does the Minister not agree that as these guidelines come from the Government, the Labour Court will regard them as a directive, particularly since they are specifically referred to in the guideline as those called upon to adjudicate? Will the Minister agree that this amounts to interference with the independence of the Labour Court?

The Government have issued guidelines. In response to the Deputy's question and to other comments made, I should like to emphasise that the document consists of guidelines in response to a request for such guidelines from the social partners. There is no question of interfering with or removing or changing the statutory powers of the Labour Court. The Labour Court is an independent body established by statute and the Government do not propose to change that.