Dáil Éireann - Volume 418 - 30 April, 1992

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Industrial Relations System.

12. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Labour if, in view of the recent bank [2235] dispute, he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

44. Mr. D'Arcy asked the Minister for Labour if, in view of the recent bank dispute, he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

61. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Labour if, in view of the recent bank dispute, he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

65. Mr. Doyle asked the Minister for Labour if, in view of the recent bank dispute, he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Wilson: I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 44, 61 and 65 together.

Under our system of industrial relations, which is voluntary in nature, it is generally a matter for the parties to disputes to arrive at mutually acceptable solutions. The State facilitates this process by providing machinery, such as the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court, to assist the parties. In keeping with the voluntary nature of the system, their role is not one of imposing settlements or of coercing one or other side to adopt a particular solution. Unless and until there is a willingness on both sides to reach a settlement, a resolution of any dispute will not be possible.

In the case of the recent dispute in the associated banks, both the Labour Relations Commission and the court played a very active and full role in helping to find a solution. The Labour Court recommendation was not at first acceptable to the IBOA but, following clarification, it formed the basis on which the dispute was resolved. The Minister for Labour is satisfied that the Labour [2236] Relations Commission and the Labour Court have played and will continue to play an important and effective role in industrial relations.

Mrs. T. Ahearn: I share the Minister's aspirations that the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court will play a very important part in disputes. In the recent bank dispute a satisfactory conclusion was not reached through the Department of Labour but following the intervention of the FIE and the ICTU, and I should like to know if the Minister accepts that those vehicles were not successful in that dispute? In future disputes will we once again have to rely on the intervention of third parties?

Mr. Wilson: From my experience as a trade unionist, after the resolution of a problem such as that one cannot point a finger and say that the FIE or the ICTU resolved it. A number of people are involved, the Minister and his Department, the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court. For all we know, the other organisations mentioned by the Deputy and their expertise was called upon those I mentioned. I am satisfied that the Labour Court, the Labour Relations Commission and the Department of Labour are very effective in dealing with industrial disputes.

Mr. Ryan: I questioned the setting up of the Labour Relations Commission. One thing we must make clear is that in the past we had too many industrial disputes. Will the Minister accept that the Labour Relations Commission have a vital role to play in ensuring that disputes are resolved quickly? Is there not a lesson to be learned from the recent bank dispute, that the Labour Relations Commission should intervene in the An Post dispute to ensure it is resolved before there is an all out strike? I note the Minister for Labour is not present but I ask the Minister for Defence to request him to get involved in this dispute and direct the Labour Relations Commission to bring both parties together to [2237] ensure it is resolved before there is an all out strike.

An Ceann Comhairle: The postal dispute is a separate matter.

Mr. Wilson: I agree that the best time to deal with a dispute is before attitudes harden and before the mud begins to fly.