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The terms "conciliation" and "arbitration" are not used in the internationally-accepted sense in relation to these schemes; the distinction will be explained below. These schemes are methods of determining pay and conditions for certain public sector workers. In the public sector, which accounts for about half of Ireland's trade union members, a prominent distinction is made between those groups which have access to the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court and those which do not but instead are covered by Conciliation and Arbitration (C & A) schemes. Those which are covered by C & A schemes include the civil service (the largest category), Garda (police) up to Commissioner rank, most teachers, some health board staff and the officer grades of local authorities. The first scheme was introduced in 1950 as a trial in response to pressure from civil service unions for access to dispute resolution . All schemes contain provisions on union recognition, although these vary from one scheme to another. All schemes specify the items which are appropriate for the "conciliation" stage, and which may be referred to "arbitration", although the teachers' scheme is unique in that it only covers claims regarding pay determination. Generally speaking, the items appropriate for conciliation include such issues as recruitment, discipline, superannuation, annual, sick or special leave, and claims relating to pay, allowances, overtime, travelling and subsistence, health and safety and hours of work. The items which may be referred to arbitration include claims concerning allowances, pay, hours of work, overtime and leave.

Conciliation under the schemes consists of management (the "official" side) and worker representatives (the "staff" side) meeting to negotiate issues with a member of the official side taking the chair, as distinct from conciliation as it is internationally understood, where the conciliator is an independent third party. Arbitration under the schemes is referred to the public service arbitrator, or the Arbitration Board. Decisions by these bodies are not in fact binding on both sides, as the relevant Minister or the Government can reject the decision.

At the time of writing, the Government is seeking changes to the C&A schemes, and this forms part of the new national agreement on pay.

Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.

Page last updated: 14 August, 2009