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Impact of employee information and consultation regulations on the island of Ireland

Jimmy Donaghey joined IRRU in September, with an already well advanced project, jointly funded by ESRC and the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, comparing the impact of the respective legislation implementing the EU’s 2002 Information and Consultation Directive in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The research involved case studies in 16 cross-border multi-site organisations in four different economic sectors. Findings to date include:

  • multi-site organisations are utilising a variety of information and consultation mechanisms across different sites in response to the legislation;
  • while there was considerable employer awareness of the legislation, most employers examined in the study did not establish I&C forums voluntarily: rather, the research indicates that employers established Information and Consultation forums against a background of union drives for recognition as the principal channel of representation ;
  • yet trade unions seem reluctant to use the I&C legislation as a mechanism towards gaining influence in workplaces. At best, unions were found to view I&C forums as a possible “add-on” rather than a mechanism to become established, thus allowing employers to use I&C as a union substitution mechanism ;
  • employee interest in the bodies often waned after the initial impetus has subsided.

Three papers analysing the findings have been accepted for publication, and are forthcoming in Work, Employment and Society, International Journal of Human Resource Management and Economic and Industrial Democracy, respectively.