Written Answers. - Industrial Relations.

Róisín Shortall


41 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the policy proposals she has to deal with the deteriorating industrial relations climate which is reflected in a number of current industrial disputes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7122/01]

The day-to-day resolution of industrial disputes is primarily a matter for the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court. I am concerned at the level of industrial action taking place or threatened. We have in place procedures and institutions to support dispute resolution and it is incumbent on employers and employees to work within those procedures and institutions.

The policy of my Department has been to promote the voluntarist approach whereby parties made the maximum effort to resolve disputes in direct talks. Where these talks fail there are, in the vast majority of employment, agreed disputes procedures normally involving the LRC and the Labour Court.

More than four fifths of cases dealt with by the LRC are settled at conciliation. Issues which are not resolved through the use of the LRC's Conciliation Service are normally referred to the Labour Court for investigation. The Labour Court is held in high regard by both workers and employees and the great majority of its recommendations are accepted by the parties.

I would remind the parties of the industrial peace clause and procedures they agreed as part of the PPF, and the further strengthening of these procedures which were agreed last December. If the parties do not reach agreement through direct negotiations they have an obligation to use agreed dispute resolution procedures.