Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Life Assurance Company: Cork Staff Relations.

6.

asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware that the entire Cork staff of the Irish Life Assurance Company have had to resort to strike action since 29th March because of the refusal or failure of the management of the Company to accept or implement a Recommendation (No. 1403) of the Labour Court in the case of a local employee, whose dismissal, following a brief period of illness, was the subject of a recent investigation by the Court at the Company's request; and what steps he has taken to ensure that the management of this State-controlled Company adheres to the normal conduct of good labour relations expected of other employers in accepting the findings of the Labour Court in disputes of this type.

7.

asked the Minister for Finance what proportion of the shares of the Irish Life Assurance Company are held by him; and whether in view of his majority shareholding in the Company he will take steps to replace its present directors in view of its failure to conform to normal practice in regard to staff relations.

I propose with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle to take Questions Nos. 6 and 7 together.

Approximately 90 per cent. of the issued shares of the Irish Life Assurance Company are held by the Minister.

As regards the other matters raised in the questions, staff relations are connected with the day-to-day administration of the Company in which I do not intervene. I understand, however, that a further conference is being arranged between the parties involved in the dispute and should take place almost immediately.

I wonder if the Minister could give a simple answer to a simple question—how can he and the Government expect employers generally to accept the recommendations of the Labour Court when they, at the same time, permit State-controlled companies to disregard the recommendations of the Labour Court? If that is not the policy of the Government, why do they not sack the directors of this company?

That is not the situation at all.

The Minister must be aware that the Labour Court made a recommendation in this case in favour of the employees and that the Irish Assurance Company, a State-controlled body, decided that they would not implement the recommendation. My question is aimed at finding out what the Government policy is in such matters. Are we to stand idly by and see State-controlled bodies adopt this policy?

That is not the situation. The Labour Court issued a finding and some question arose on the interpretation of that decision. A further conference has been arranged between the two parties to the dispute and it should take place very shortly.

Is it a case of there being ambiguity in the findings of the Labour Court?

There could be no dispute about the interpretation of the findings unless there was ambiguity.

Could I get it definitely from the Minister whether or not the Labour Court's recommendations were quite clear or did somebody in the Irish Assurance Company say that there was some ambiguity about them?

A conference has been arranged to look into that matter.

That is not the answer to my question. In view of the Minister's unsatisfactory reply I should like to raise the matter on the adjournment.

I shall communicate with the Deputy.