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Industrial Relations in Ireland

Autor:   •  October 18, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  790 Words (4 Pages)  •  904 Views

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Industrial relations ascertain and define the relationships within places of work between the management and lower echelon employees. In order for these two groups to communicate and work together efficiently, it is necessary for there to be an intermediary representing the broader needs and concerns of the employees. These intermediaries are known as trade unions and the history of Ireland’s current trade union structure is rooted in the birth of the Industrial Revolution (Irish Labour Society).

These worker’s unions first spawned as a result of skilled workers needing to be organised into a coherent and considerable force in order to gain fair working conditions and pay.

The early part of the 20th century saw the establishment of many of Ireland’s first major worker’s unions. Under the guidance of James Larkin, The Irish Transport and General Workers' Union became an era defining movement, committed to challenging the status quo of Ireland’s employer class, which was typified by the 1913 Lock Out (Irish Congress of Trade Unions).

While these original trade unions were in their infancy, they were predominantly influenced by many similar socio-economic factors that afflict our industrial relations policies and legislation to this day. Individual worker satisfaction, the broader economic climate and fair working conditions and contracts are still the main points of contention in the vast majority of contemporary industrial disputes (Wallace, 2004).

What has changed the complexion of Ireland’s industrial relations greatly since then - is the level of credentialisation and skilled workers who are less dependent on large unions (Sullivan, 2005). Since the advent of the Labour Relations Tribunal and pioneering government policies on Social Partnership, European integration and macroeconomic stabilisation, a more stable labour condition was created by pacifying the antagonistic relationship between employers and employees and making trade union representation a redundant endeavor for a large percentage of the workforce (Wallace, 2004).

These Social Partnership initiatives were set up as long term strategic ideals that would eliminate the need for union action against employers and boost our economy by incorporating a tripartite consensus on wage rates and conditions between the Government, main employer groups; Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) and the Construction Industry Federation and the trade unions (members of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions) (O' Donnell).

While other European nations followed somewhat similar models to Ireland’s 1987 Social Partnership pact (O' Donnell), Ireland stood alone in having the covenants of this pact


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