27 June 2006
Record Referral Levels to LRC
* The Labour Relations Commission today announced that it had received a record number of referrals to its services in 2005. The Commission, at the launch of its Annual Report for 2005, confirmed that the number of referrals to its Rights Commissioner Service, which included complaints of Unfair Dismissal and allegations of breaches of the 'Organisation of Working Time', 'Fixed Term Work' and 'Payment of Wages' Acts among others, had increased by 18% over the 2004 level.
* The Commission attributed the increase in referrals to an increasing awareness among those in employment, and particularly migrant workers, of the body of employment rights available in Ireland and a genuine confidence in the capacity of the Commission to deal effectively with complaints. The Commission also believes that the impact of the increasingly wide jurisdiction of Rights Commissioners, now extending to 19 separate pieces of Legislation, is now being felt.
* "The Commission has invested significantly in awareness raising throughout 2005 and the effects of our work and the work of the Employment Rights Division of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment are plainly evident in the referral figures now being recorded by the Commission" said Mr Maurice Cashell, Chairman of the LRC.
* The Commission also confirmed that referrals to its Conciliation and Advisory Services had increased by 14% and 18% respectively in 2005. Gross activity for the year included 2,809 Rights Commissioners hearings, 2,054 Conciliation meetings and 145 Advisory Projects.
* "The essential work of the LRC is the effective delivery of service on a daily basis to employers, employees and their representatives throughout the Country" said Mr Cashell, " and while the Commission must, and does, have the capacity to deal with high profile disputes like the Irish Ferries dispute, the core value to Irish employments of the work of the LRC is the thousands of interventions taking place each year - ranging from rights determination to dispute resolution to advice on good practice".
* The Commission's Annual Report also confirmed that in 2005 it had dealt effectively with referrals under the pay provisions of the Sustaining Progress Agreement (115 cases) as well as the new legislation on Voluntary Dispute Resolution in cases where Union Recognition arrangements are not in place (149 cases).
* Commenting on the excellent track record of the parties to industrial disputes in Ireland in terms of finding resolution through dialogue and the use of robust procedures, the Chairman said " The priority for the Commission now is to support the parties to Irish employment relationships by working hard to identify problems at the earliest possible moment, advising and assisting the development of strong in-house procedures in companies and working to ensure that the Commission's services remain flexible and relevant to the needs of Irish employments."
* Mr Cashell commented that evidence of the commitment of the Commission to these priorities included the launch of a new Workplace Mediation Service at the latter end of 2005. "This Service is targeted at relationship based disputes in employment and is a direct response by the Commission to the perception of a need in Irish employments today" said Mr Cashell.
Full text of Annual Report 2005: