Press Release

Committee To Look At New Ways To Resolve Workplace Disputes

Session: 2008/2009

Date: Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Reference: E&L02/08/09

Complex procedures to resolve workplace disputes can escalate into expensive legal action. That’s what the Assembly’s Committee for Employment and Learning has heard from the Labour Relations Agency .

At its weekly meeting, held today at Stranmillis College, the Committee took evidence from the LRA and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Chairperson of the Committee, Sue Ramsey MLA said, “This is an issue that touches all workers. We want to see the best system put in place that will be fair for workers and employers alike. The current system of dispute resolution in the workplace is under review and we are looking at ways in which it can be improved.

“It is of concern to the Committee that the current system is often not appropriate for the majority of local businesses which are small and often do not have access to professional human resources advice.

“As well as taking evidence from interested parties, the Committee is working in partnership with the Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, to examine the options for a new, more user friendly system that will perhaps allow resolution of disputes at an earlier stage.”

As well as giving evidence to the Committee, the Labour Relations Agency also articulated a possible way forward.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The LRA (the Agency) was established in 1976. The general statutory duty of the Agency is to promote the improvement of industrial relations in Northern Ireland (NI) through facilitating good employment practice and resolving industrial disputes.

The Federation of Small Businesses is the UK's largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms. Formed in 1974, it has over 215,000 members across 33 regions and 230 branches.

The Committee for Employment and Learning is committed to holding its meetings in local community settings on a regular basis to promote participation and engagement at a local level.

The Committee Chairperson is Ms. Sue Ramsey MLA
The Deputy Chairperson is Mr. Robin Newton MLA

Committee members:
Mr. Alex Attwood MLA
Mr. Paul Butler MLA
Rev. Dr. Robert Coulter MLA
Mr. Alex Easton MLA
Mr. David Hilditch MLA
Mr. William Irwin MLA
Ms. Anna Lo MLA
Mr. David McClarty MLA
Mrs. Claire McGill MLA

Media enquiries should be addressed to:
Ms Debra Savage,
Northern Ireland Assembly, Press Office,
Telephone – 028 90 521405/521137
Mobile: 07920 864221
Email – info.office@niassembly.gov.uk

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