Lowest number of days lost to industrial relations disputes since 2012 – WRC

€3.1 million recovered in unpaid wages by WRC in 2018, up 75 per cent on previous year

The report said 4,050 days involving 1,184 workers were lost to industrial relations disputes in 2018 compared to 50,191 days, involving 9,456 workers the previous year. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

The report said 4,050 days involving 1,184 workers were lost to industrial relations disputes in 2018 compared to 50,191 days, involving 9,456 workers the previous year. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

There were 4,050 days lost to industrial relations disputes last year, the lowest level since 2012, according to the Workplace Relations Commission’s annual report (WRC).

There was €3.1 million recovered in unpaid wages by the WRC in 2018, up 75 per cent on the previous year. The report said the number of adjudications heard last year increased by 20 per cent on 2017, with 5, 312 hearings held and 2,964 adjudication decisions issued.

The WRC said almost all adjudication complaints were processed in less than nine months.

There were 15,451 specific complaints received last year with more than a quarter of those related to pay issues.

Unfair dismissal and discrimination/equality accounted for just under 30 per cent of complaints. Trade disputes and industrial relations issues made up nine per cent of complaints, followed by complaints related to terms and conditions of employment (eight per cent).

The report said 4,050 days involving 1,184 workers were lost to industrial relations disputes in 2018 compared to 50,191 days, involving 9,456 workers the previous year.

“While 2018 was a relatively peaceful year in terms of industrial relations and had the lowest number of days lost to industrial action since 2012, the 1,062 requests to the WRC for conciliation represented a 13 per cent increase on 2017,” it said.

“In all, 1,145 conferences were convened with a resolution rate of 87 per cent.”

There were 5,753 inspections concluded, covering over 133,000 employees.

While just under 45 per cent of all employers inspected were found to be in breach of employment legislation to some degree, the level of breaches across sectors generally was in excess of 50 per cent.

Sectors with breach rates higher than 60 per cent included electrical, fisheries, food and drink, hair and beauty, transport, wholesale and retail, with the highest being the equine sector at 84 per cent.

Patricia King, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said the €3.1m in unpaid wages represents “just the tip of the iceberg”.

“The significant increase in the amount of unpaid wages recovered as a result of a modest increase in the number of workplace inspections last year unequivocally demonstrates the case for additional resources to be urgently made available to WRC inspection and enforcement service,” she said.

“As the economy and numbers at work continue to grow, rogue employers need to be left in no doubt that the odds of them receiving a knock on the door from a compliance inspector are too great to risk underpaying their staff or breaching employment rights. This is far from the current situation.”

Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business Pat Breen said 2018 was a “very successful year” for the WRC.

“In terms of the adjudication service the number of hearings has increased by 20 per cent over the period while there has also been a significant increase in the overall number of face-to-face mediations conducted in the year, more than doubling on the 2017 outturn,” he said.

“In addition, there was a 20 per cent increase in the inspections concluded by the WRC in 2018.”