The system of industrial relations in Ireland is essentially voluntary in nature.
The system of industrial relations in Ireland is essentially voluntary in nature. There has been agreement on all sides that the terms and conditions of employment of workers is best determined by the process of voluntary collective bargaining between an employer or employers' association and one or more trade unions, without the intervention of the State.
Under this process, standard matters like wages or hours of work are determined and, in addition, some collective agreements lay down procedural rules that govern the conduct of industrial relations between the parties.
Over the years, however, legislation has been enacted in certain areas (such as minimum rates of pay, holidays, working hours, minimum notice, redundancy, dismissals and employment equality) laying down certain minimum standards that may be improved upon by collective bargaining, but cannot be taken away or diminished.
The State's role in industrial relations in Ireland has been largely confined to facilitating the collective bargaining process through establishing by legislation institutions to assist in the resolution of disputes between employers and workers.
The main collective dispute mechanisms is the Labour Court, which adjudicates on collective industrial disputes. Responsibility for promoting good industrial relations in Ireland now rests with the Workplace Relations Commission, which provides a range of industrial relations services around preventing and resolving workplace disputes and disagreements involving groups of workers, individual workers, employers and their representatives.
Activities of a developmental nature relating to the improvement of industrial relations practices are also undertaken by the Workplace Relations Commission. These include –
- the review and monitoring of developments in the area of industrial relations
- the preparation, in consultation with the social partners, of codes of practice relevant to industrial relations
- industrial relations research and publications
- organisation of seminars/conferences on industrial relations/human resource management issues.
The Labour Relations Commission deals with individual and collective issues.
Individual cases can be dealt with through mediation or, if that is not possible, by an Adjudication Officer. The Adjudication Officer makes determinations in relation to breaches of employment rights and their decisions may be appealed to the Labour Court.
A useful source for information is the Citizens information: