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Law 'transforms' industrial relations

Tuesday, May 13 14:25:32

The Government today said that its reform of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001 will transform the industrial relations landscape in Ireland.

The changes effectively end mandatory collective bargaining.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation, Richard Bruton said it will provide a clear and balanced mechanism by which the fairness of the employment conditions of workers in their totality can be assessed where collective bargaining does not take place and will provide clarity and certainty for employers in managing their workplaces over the years ahead.

The main provisions will see a definition of what constitutes "collective bargaining”; provisions to help the Labour Court identify if internal bargaining bodies are genuinely independent of their employer and bring clarity to the requirements to be met by a Trade Union advancing a claim under the Act.

It will also set out policies and principles for the Labour Court to follow when assessing those workers' terms and conditions, including the sustainability of the employers business in the long-term.

It includes new provisions to ensure cases dealt with are ones where the numbers of workers are not insignificant as well as provisions to ensure remuneration, terms and conditions are looked at in their totality.

The amendments also include provisions to limit the frequency of reassessment of the same issues and an explicit prohibition on the use by employers of inducements (financial or otherwise) designed specifically to have staff forego collective representation by a trade union as well as enhanced protection for workers who may feel that they are being victimised for exercising their rights in this regard by way of interim relief in the case of dismissal.

"In developing these proposals, I have been keen to respect the positions of both sides of industry. They will retain our voluntary system of industrial relations, but also ensure that workers have confidence that, where there is no collective bargaining, they have an effective system that ensures they can air problems about remuneration, terms and conditions and have these determined based on those in similar companies and not be victimised for doing so," the Minister said.