Written answers

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Industrial Disputes

9:00 pm

Photo of M J NolanM J Nolan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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Question 228: To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will encourage a company (details supplied) in County Carlow to implement the terms as recommended by the Labour Court for a redundancy package for its employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36920/06]

Photo of Tony KilleenTony Killeen (Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Clare, Fianna Fail)
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On the 26th of April 2006, the Labour Court made a recommendation regarding the redundancy terms for Irish Sugar workers at the Mallow plant. The recommendation provided that redundancy should be 5 weeks' pay per year of service, where a week's pay would be defined as actual finishing salary, excluding overtime, plus statutory redundancy entitlement, plus a bonus payment for an orderly wind-down.

The Court issued two clarifications in May, but these failed to achieve a resolution to the dispute.

The Labour Court invited the parties to return to the Court with a view to resolving the dispute. However, the company rejected the Court's invitation. I very much regret the decision taken by the company in this regard.

The Labour Court issued a third clarification of its Recommendation on the 17th of October 2006. The company has indicated that it is not prepared to alter its offer. Similarly, the trade unions have not changed their position and are not prepared to accept the company's existing offer.

My colleague, Minister Micheál Martin, has met with representatives of both the trade unions and the company and urged them to resolve their differences and to avail of the dispute settling machinery of the State, as necessary. I have also met with union representatives to discuss this matter. The National Implementation Body has also worked with the parties concerned to seek to identify an agreed procedure to resolve the issue in dispute.

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.

Where the Labour Court operates as an industrial relations tribunal in trade disputes, its recommendations are not enforceable. In such cases, the Court hears both sides and then issues a recommendation setting out its opinion on the dispute and the terms on which it considers the dispute should be settled. While these recommendations are not binding on the parties concerned, the parties are expected to give serious consideration to the Court's recommendation. 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.

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