I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 to 166, inclusive, together.
Responsibility for the resolution of industrial disputes between employers and workers rests with the employer, the workers and their representatives. The State provides the industrial relations dispute settlement machinery free of charge to assist this process, which, in line with the general principles of industrial relations in Ireland, is voluntary in nature. The system of industrial relations and collective bargaining in Ireland is designed to help and support parties in their efforts to resolve their differences, without the intervention of the State.
Institutions that have been established to assist in the resolution of disputes between employers and workers include the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court, independent statutory bodies that act independently in carrying out their functions.
If the issues in a trade dispute cannot be resolved at local level or at conciliation in the LRC, the Labour Court may be called upon to issue its recommendations for resolving the matter. The Labour Court does not issue legally enforceable decisions in disputes referred to it under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. In making recommendations on the terms on which disputes can be settled, the Court relies on its moral authority and integrity as an independent dispute resolution body rather than any legal powers of enforcement to support its recommendations. It is expected that the parties come to this process in good faith and consequently are prepared to give serious consideration to the Court's recommendations.
Ultimately, however, responsibility for the resolution of trade disputes is a matter for the parties involved.