Industrial Relations commonly denote the relationship between management and employees. The Irish Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to form associations and unions.
The main legislation covering Industrial Disputes is the 1990 Industrial Relations Act. This act provides that Trade Unions and their members are immune from prosecution where an action is “in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute”. Before the immunities apply a number of conditions must be met:
- There must be a trade dispute as defined in the legislation
- The action must be of a type permitted by the legislation.
- The proposal to take action must not have been rejected in a ballot of the workers concerned.
- If the dispute concerns an individual worker all procedures used in employment must have been used and exhausted.
A trade dispute is defined as:
“Any dispute between employers and workers which is connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms or conditions of, or affecting the employment of any person”
The 1981 commission of inquiry on Industrial Relations reflects the view that collective bargaining and not legislation should be the primary source of regulation in the employment relationship.
Traditionally Ireland has been grouped with those countries with higher than average days lost to Industrial conflict. However, over the last 10 years this has changed. We have progressed from the stage where employees did what they were told and followed instructions to employees now querying the instructions and demanding to be part of the decision making process.
Evidence is emerging of an increasing preference for employers to implement employee involvement strategies.
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