Employee Involvement Has to Come from within Business Not from Legislation

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), February 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

Employee Involvement Has to Come from within Business Not from Legislation


EARLIER this week, the CBI nationally urged Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt to resist using the law to bolster unjustifiably the role of trade unions in UK industrial relations.

Instead, we set out a business vision of the industrial relations culture that would best suit a fast-moving modern economy. This comes ahead of key government decisions on the Employment Relations Act and the EU Directive on Information and Consultation.

The government is reviewing the 1999 Employment Relations Act, which gave employees new rights to trade union representation. It is also deciding how to implement the EU Directive, which requires companies to communicate and consult with staff.

Even though employment legislation is a devolved matter, and it is therefore for the NI Assembly, (on the assumption that it will be up and running again in the not-too-distant future) to take these issues forward, this review and implementation is of much more than academic interest to Northern Ireland.

The 1999 Act itself was implemented here by Westminster because of the previous long period of suspension in 1999 - it contained provisions which were based on EU Directives and thus had to be implemented.

The same will be true of those emanating from the Information and Consultation Directive; if suspension of the Assembly continues much beyond the next two or three months, the UK Government will have little choice but to implement it here in the same way as in the rest of the UK.

The CBI is concerned that the government appears to justify new legislation on employee involvement as a means to improving UK productivity, which we consider misguided.

Firstly, employee involvement is only one of a number of people management practices which are identified as improving business performance - job design and employee development are equally important. …

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