Friday, December 02, 2005

Irish Ferries Dispute

Presumably Irish Ferries management believe that they are pursuing a logical business strategy, but the tactics they are employing are repugnant to most observers and seem to put the entire business at risk.

In choosing the nuclear option, they have rejected the alternative September 2005 proposals developed by consultants Greg Sparks and Martin King.

Their proposals included a 5% salary cut, reduced manning levels on ships and the outsourcing of cleaning and catering staff. They also commented critically on the state of internal staff/manangement relationships within the company and the urgent need to repair these if the company was to successfully manage the ongoing change necessary for the company to survive.
SIPTU had indicated they would accept these proposals, a clear indication that the union recognised the need for concessions and acceptance that the current operating model is not sustainable in the medium to long term.

Given this union acceptance of the need for change, is it not puzzling that these alternative proposals appear to have been also rejected by the Labour Court? Their latest recommendation that the company simply maintain the status quo was surely issued in the certain knowledge that it could not be acceptable to the company.

If the industrial relations machinery of the state operates in an apparently illogical fashion, it’s hard to envisage any middle-ground resolution of this ugly dispute.

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