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Labour Court should be allowed bring “finality” to disputes, consultants say (IRN Article)

The following article written by Brian Sheehan appeared in Industrial Relations News on 28.11.19 (See IRN 43) and is repeated here.

The role that the Labour Court can play in bringing finality to disputes “should be an increasingly important part of its remit”, an employment relations conference will be told this week.

This is one of several changes put forward by Stratis Consulting, which says that decisions on industrial relations matters by the Labour Court, “should be guided by the strategic goal of making Ireland the preferred location for employers to invest and to grow their businesses and for employees to live and work”.

Stratis says the role that the Labour Court can play in bringing finality to disputes “and in particular to disputes of interest between parties through arbitration” should be an increasingly important part of its remit to encourage recourse to the Court by parties under S.20(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969.

“Referrals to the Court have more regularly taken place under S.20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969, by the workers concerned or their trade union only, where they agree in advance to be bound by the outcome”, the consultants observe.

But they say there is no corresponding provision in S.20 for referrals to be made by employers. “This represents an anomaly and can provide a veto to workers and their trade union”, they argue.

“In the interests of equity”, Stratis wants this section of the Act to be amended to allow for a referral by an employer or an employer body representing the employer on similar terms.

“This may be of value concerning the interpretation of an agreement or on the implementation of change”, Stratis says.

Though no concrete examples are given, it is conceivable that such a provision – were it ever to be agreed – might be applied in disputes such as the seemingly intractable and lengthy row – stretching now to five years – at Pfizer in Cork.

Stratis is made up of managing partner Brendan McGinty, and senior partners Brendan McCarthy and Liam Doherty. (See ‘The Journey Towards a ‘World Class’ Workplace Relations System – Where Are We? ’in this issue)

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