Ireland's system of industrial relations is, essentially, voluntary in nature and responsibility for the resolution of industrial disputes is a matter for the parties involved. The system of industrial relations in Ireland is designed to help and support parties in their efforts to resolve their differences, rather than imposing a solution on the parties to an industrial dispute. Responsibility for the settlement of this dispute rests, ultimately, with the parties themselves. The obligation lies with the parties to seek to resolve their differences and to carry their efforts through to completion.
I understand that the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. This provision allows the Court to investigate a trade dispute where the Labour Relations Commission is satisfied that it is unable to further assist the parties and the parties themselves have requested the involvement of the Court. However, the Labour Court's recommendation is not binding on either party to the dispute and the Court cannot compel a company to comply with its recommendations.
As the Labour Court is a court of last resort in the industrial relations process, it is expected that the parties come to the process in good faith and consequently are prepared to accept the outcome of the process, namely the Labour Court recommendation.
I welcome the decision taken by UNITE members to call off the strike action scheduled for 30 September at the Bank of Ireland in order to seek clarification from the Labour Court on its recent recommendation.
In my view, the experience and expertise of the Court offers the best avenue for resolving the issues in dispute. To this end, I would urge the company to reflect carefully on the consequences of not complying with the Court's recommendation and would strongly encourage them to give a positive consideration to the recommendation.