Thursday, 4 June 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
Proinsias De Rossa: asked the Minister for Labour the number of proceedings taken against employers for breaches of the Protection of Employment Act, 1977, since the Act came into operation; if he has satisfied himself that the operation is being properly policed; the changes, if any, which are planned to the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern): Proceedings have not been taken against any employer under the provisions of the Protection of Employment Act, 1977. The clear intention behind the Act is to encourage employers and unions jointly to seek ways to minimise the impact of redundancies. My main concern about the operation of the Act to date is that  while the requirements about notification seem to be generally well observed, it is not so clear that meaningful consultation has come about as a result of observance of these procedures.
The role of the Minister for Labour under the Act in regard to collective redundancies is to ensure that: (1) the requisite notice is given to trade unions representing the workers involved; (2) the consultations with the trade unions are initiated at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes place and cover:
The Act gives to trade unions the right to prior notice and to prior consultation with employers. The Minister for Labour is not, however, empowered to intervene in such consultations to secure, for example, a deferral of the proposed redundancies until agreement is reached on either the number being dismissed or on the amount of severence pay. In the consultation process the parties are then in a free collective bargaining situation and can avail, if they so desire, of existing dispute-settling machinery.
While I have no plans to introduce amendments to the Act, I intend to see that it is actively enforced and will be ready to use the investigative procedures avialable to me under Part III of the 1977 Act to ascertain whether the statutory provisions have been complied with should any legitimate doubt arise.
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