Industrial relations
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Industrial Relations. Chapter 26. Industrial Relations. What does ‘Industrial Relations’ mean? Industrial relations refers to the relationship which exists between employers and employees. It is most important that this relationship is good. Industrial Relations. Good Industrial relations

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Industrial relations

Industrial Relations

Chapter 26


Industrial relations1

Industrial Relations

What does ‘Industrial Relations’ mean?

  • Industrial relations refers to the relationship which exists between employers and employees.

  • It is most important that this relationship is good.


Industrial relations2

Industrial Relations

Good Industrial relations

  • Good Industrial Relations ensure that:

  • Discussions take place on a continuous basis

  • Disputes over wages, working conditions, etc can be settled quickly and without a strike taking place.

  • Workers are happier in their work and are more productive


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Industrial Relations

Bad Industrial Relations

  • Bad Industrial Relations lead to:

  • Disputes and strikes

  • Loss of pay for employees

  • Loss of profits for employers

  • Workers looking for new jobs

  • High levels of absenteeism and staff turnover


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Industrial Relations

What is a ‘Trade Union’?

  • Trade Unions are organisations formed by workers to protect the interests of their members.


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Industrial Relations

Trade Unions

  • Trade Unions help their members in the following ways:

  • They negotiate with employers for better wages, shorter working hours, longer holidays, safer working conditions, etc.

  • They protect members from unfair dismissal

  • They represent members in discussions with employer organisations and the government, on matters such as taxation, wages, etc.


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Industrial Relations

Trade Unions

  • There are 4 types of Trade Union

  • Craft Unions

  • White Collar Unions

  • Industrial Unions

  • General Unions


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Industrial Relations

Types of Trade Union

  • Craft Unions

  • Members belong to a particular trade and have served an apprenticeship

    eg.: Irish Actors’ Equity Union, Irish Master Butchers Federation

  • White Collar Unions

  • Members work in professional areas such as the civil service and teaching.

    eg.: ASTI Association of Secondary Teachers

    TUI Teachers’ Union of Ireland


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Industrial Relations

Types of Trade Union

  • Industrial Unions

  • Members work in the same industry regardless of the work they do in that industry.

  • It represents people working at different types of jobs in nursing, banking, etc.

    eg.: INO Irish Nurses Organisation, Prison Officers Association

  • General Unions

  • Members work in all types of industry such as manufacturing, cleaning, electricians, etc.

    eg.: Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union - SIPTU


Industrial relations

Industrial Relations

How is a Trade Union run?

  • Trade Union members elect certain people (shop steward, general secretary, president) and committees to run the union.


Industrial relations

Industrial Relations

What is a ‘Shop Steward’?

  • This is the local union representative and is elected by members for a term of one to three years.

  • The main duties of a shop steward include:

  • Recruiting new members

  • Acting a as a link between members and union HQ and passing on any information received from head office.

  • Negotiating with the employer on behalf of its members (employees)


Industrial relations

Industrial Relations

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)

  • This is a voluntary body made up of member trade unions.

  • Most trade unions in Ireland are affiliated to the ICTU.

  • It provides one voice for all its members (unions)

  • It consults with the government and the government on all matters of national interest

    eg.: wages, tax, social welfare

  • Gives advice and training to trade unions

  • Nominates people to the Labour Court and Labour Relations Commission.


Industrial relations

Industrial Relations

  • The other party in industrial relations is the employer.

  • Human resource (personnel) managers represent the employer in all discussions with workers/unions.

  • Many potential disputes are settled when shop stewards and personnel managers meet


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Industrial Relations

  • At national level employers are represented by the Irish Business Employers Confederation (IBEC), the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME), Construction Industry Federation (CIF), etc.

  • Employers organisations:

  • Provide one voice for its members (employers)

  • Represent employers in discussions with the Government

  • Sometimes intervene if one of their members (an employer) is in dispute with a trade union

  • It gives advice to its members


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Industrial Relations

  • What is Collective Bargaining?

  • This takes place between the Social Partners

    i.e. the Government, Trade Unions, Employers Organisations, etc

  • They decide on the increase in the level of wages in an economy over a period of time.

  • In return for keeping wages increases low, the government agrees to keep taxes low.

  • Collective bargaining leads to the National Wage Agreements

  • Theses agreements lead to

  • Better industrial relations (less strikes)

  • Lower costs, lower prices and increased sales and employment


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Industrial Relations

  • The following are reasons for ‘Industrial Relations’ disputes:

  • Pay

  • Working Conditions

  • Unfair Dismissal

  • Redundancy

  • Demarcation

  • Discrimination


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Industrial Relations

Reasons for an Industrial Dispute

  • Pay

  • Workers might want higher wages.

  • Workers might want extra pay for extra work done

    eg.: teachers getting paid for supervision

  • Working Conditions

  • Fewer hours of work

  • Safer Work Areas

    eg.: Insisting on safety netting on scaffolding


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Industrial Relations

Reasons for an Industrial Dispute

  • Unfair Dismissal of Workers

  • Ensuring that employees are fairly dismissed

  • The Unfair Dismissals Act lays down what an unfair dismissal is, what is a fair dismissal is, the proper procedure for dismissing workers and the forms of redress workers are entitled to if they’re unfairly dismissed.


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Industrial Relations

Reasons for an Industrial Dispute

  • Redundancy

  • Employees are made redundant if there is no work available for them.

  • Conflict can arise over what employees are laid off first (Last In First Out [LIFO]) and the redundancy payment that they are entitled to.

  • Demarcation

  • This relates to doing the work one is employed and qualified to do

    eg.: an electrician doing the work of a plaster


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Industrial Relations

  • Unions can take 4 different types of ‘Industrial Action’ to back their claims:

  • Work to rule

  • Go slow

  • Overtime ban

  • Sit in

  • Strike


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Industrial Relations

Industrial Action

  • Work to rule

  • Where employees will only do the exact work they were employed to do

  • Go slow

  • Where employees do their work but do so as slowly as possible


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Industrial Relations

Industrial Action

  • Overtime Ban

  • Where employees refuse to do any overtime required by their employer

  • Sit-in

  • This is when workers refuse to leave their place of work

  • Unions are rarely officially involved in a sit-in


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Industrial Relations

Industrial Action

  • Strike

  • Where workers stop working and place a picket on the employer.

  • If the strike is official it will have the backing of the union and the ICTU

  • What is a Picket?

  • This is when workers walk up and down outside their workplace carrying placards stating that a strike is taking place


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Industrial Relations


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Industrial Relations

  • All disputes should be resolved at the earliest possible stage to ensure that both the employee and employer do not loose out.

  • A Win-Win solution for both sides should be the aim.

  • If the written down procedures are followed then strikes should not take place.


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Industrial Relations

  • The following are the 5 steps in the resolution of an industrial dispute:

  • Worker Supervisor

  • Shop Steward Manager

  • Union Official Head Office/employer

  • Conciliation

  • Arbitration


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Industrial Relations

Resolution of Industrial Relations Disputes

  • Worker – Supervisor

  • The worker should firstly discusses the problem with their supervisor. If there is no agreement then they go on to step 2

  • Shop Steward – Manager

  • The shop steward will then discuss the dispute with the manager. If there is no agreement we go onto step 3

  • Union Official – Employer

  • A Union Official from head office will discuss the problem with the employer (who informs IBEC). If there is no agreement then we go onto step 4


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Industrial Relations

Resolution of Industrial Relations Disputes

  • Conciliation

  • An acceptable person or organisation is asked to help both sides settle their dispute.

  • This is an 3rd party or middle man.

  • They encourage both sides to talk out their problems and help both sides reach a mutually acceptable, negotiated solution.

  • They may suggest a way of solving the conflict.

  • They cannot tell the parties involved what to do

  • If there is no agreement we move onto step 5.


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Industrial Relations

Resolution of Industrial Relations Disputes

  • Arbitration

  • An acceptable independent person or organisation is asked by both sides to examine the dispute and to make a decision which both sides gave agreed in advance to accept.

  • The decision is acted upon.


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Industrial Relations

Resolution of Industrial Relations Disputes

The Labour Court

  • This is a court of last resort.

  • It is made up of a representative of employers, a representative of the unions and an independent chairperson.

  • The labour Court investigates a dispute. They make recommendations having listened to both sides.

  • These decisions are not legally binding but both sides are expected to consider them seriously.

  • Usually both sides agree in advance to accept the recommendations of the labour court. This is called binding arbitration


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