The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act of 2001 : its effects and the implications for workers and trade unions in Ireland

Gibbons, Tish (Ann Patricia) (2014) The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act of 2001 : its effects and the implications for workers and trade unions in Ireland. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis concerns the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act of 2001, its effects on workers and implications for trade unions in Ireland. The legislation provides a means of resolving the substantive issues in dispute between workers and employers when employers refuse to recognise the trade union articulating those issues. It may also deal with procedural issues but may not provide for collective bargaining. In abeyance since 2007 due to legal challenges, and amid Government commitments to return the Act to its original intent, this thesis seeks to provide an evidence based response to the various calls for the Act’s amendment or replacement.

A mixed methods approach contributed to an extensive examination of the cases taken under the Act:

- Documentary analysis of all Labour Court Recommendations issued
- A tracing of each workplace back to the union which referred the case
- A survey of union officials currently or potentially responsible for the members at workplaces where cases had previously been taken
- Interviews with union members, activists and staff in ten selected cases

The Labour Court Recommendations, in complying with the terms of the Act, must and do accept non-union fora for the resolution of collective issues and effectively corral trade unions into individual representation, managing misbehaviour and exit. Focussing also on the aftermath of the Labour Court Recommendations afforded a unique understanding of the effects on workers and their trade unions; the effects of the process in addition to the effects of the written outcome.

The research found that the majority of workplaces no longer have union members. Those still in membership display low levels of density and of activism and a distinct link is demonstrated between the union organising approach and such outcomes in each case. Those campaigns conducted with a greater emphasis on mobilisation or organising model techniques, where the referral under the 2001 Act was just one element in a broad campaign were more successful in achieving collective bargaining and better membership density and activism levels. The study recommends caution regarding sole reliance on the procedures provided by the Act.

Tish (Ann Patricia) Gibbons - DProf Final Thesis.pdf - Accepted Version

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