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Written Answers - Industrial Disputes

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 109.  Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith  asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton  the progress that has been made in relation to the resolution of a long running dispute at a company (details supplied); if the State’s industrial relations agencies have been involved in trying to reach a resolution in view of the urgent need to deal without further delay with the concerns of the employees of the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19664/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Workers at the Lagan Brick factory in Kingscourt, Co Cavan have been involved in a protest outside the company’s premises in a dispute over the decision by the company to close its operation on 15 [183]December last with the loss of 29 jobs. The union wanted to retain maximum employment at the plant and secure satisfactory redundancy terms for any workers that would lose their jobs. Subsequently, representatives of the company and the trade union SIPTU attended conciliation talks at the Labour Relations Commission on 10th and 16th January. These talks were reconvened on 6 February following consideration by both sides of an examination of the trading position of the company undertaken by an independent expert.

Following the 6th of February hearing, SIPTU stated that it would be seeking the intervention of the Labour Court in the dispute, following the failure to reach agreement in the LRC talks.

However, I understand that Lagan Brick subsequently issued a statement to the effect that the company did not intend to pursue further negotiation with worker representatives in this matter. I understand that, in a ballot conducted on Thursday 1st March, SIPTU members in Lagan Brick voted almost unanimously to take strike action in response to the company’s decision not to attend the Labour Court, and that seven days’ notice of strike action was served on Lagan Brick by SIPTU on 2nd March. Official strike action began at Kingscourt on 10 March and SIPTU has signalled its intention to continue the action until a satisfactory conclusion is reached.

I regret that the company has decided against pursuing a negotiated settlement and has declined to attend a Labour Court hearing, contrary to good industrial relations practice in that regard.

In my view, the experience and expertise of the Labour Court offers the most appropriate and effective avenue for resolving such issues.

I would urge the parties involved in this dispute to work together to break the current impasse by utilising the established machinery for dispute resolution, who are available to assist at short notice.

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