Dáil Éireann - Volume 489 - 22 April, 1998
Written Answers. - Defence Forces Structure.
Mr. Higgins (Mayo) Mr. Higgins (Mayo)
127. Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for Defence if, in view of his statement on 27 November 1997 stating that he had asked the Secretary General of his Department to develop proposals as soon as possible for new partnership structures to provide a forum to develop joint ownership of change with the representative associations, these proposals have been developed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9068/98]
Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith) Michael Smith
 Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The representative associations for the Permanent Defence Force, RACO and PDFORRA operate under a conciliation and arbitration scheme. It is accepted that such systems have traditionally been adversarial in nature and did not lend themselves easily to the management of change. The Partnership 2000 for inclusion, employment and competitiveness advocates building more open, co-operative processes on existing arrangements. In the context of both the process of re-organisation of the Defence Forces and the Partnership 2000 I have asked the Secretary General of the Department to develop proposals on providing a forum in which to develop joint ownership of change. Such structures would complement the existing conciliation and arbitration scheme.
The question of engaging outside specialist assistance in this area is being considered in conjunction with the representative associations. Consideration is also being given to partnership structures for RACO and PDFORRA and I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of those processes. In general however employment relationships can be very much improved by an acceptance by both sides that substantial support of each other is necessary to make progress. Both sides must also accept that each has a legitimate role and interest in the organisation. Such steps should lead to higher levels of mutual respect for and trust in each others positions. This approach has already been warmly welcomed by PDFORRA representatives who regard it as a major breakthrough.
Dáil Éireann 489 Written Answers. Defence Forces Structure.