Radical change tops agenda of new partnership body

March 2002 saw the formal launch of Ireland's National Centre for Partnership and Performance, a new body which seeks to support and facilitate organisational change based on partnership.

A special seminar was organised in Dublin on 25 March 2002 to mark the formal launch of the National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP) (IE0104166F) by the deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Mary Harney. Ms Harney is also the Minister for Enterprise and Employment. Established under the current national agreement, the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) (IE0003149F), the NCPP replaces the poorly funded National Centre for Partnership (NCP), which was set up under the Partnership 2000 agreement (1997-9) (IE9706202N).

Speaking at the event, the NCPP executive chair, Peter Cassells, stated that companies, public service bodies, managers, trade unions and public policy-makers must embrace continuing and radical organisational change in order to modernise the world of work. Bringing about such major change will require a 'remodeling and repositioning of social partnership as we have known it in this country to date'. He emphasised that the NCPP also wants to engage with non-union companies. The director of the NCPP, Lucy Fallon-Byrne, said that it would be both 'visionary and practical', seeking to provide the necessary leadership to develop a vision of the workplace but also aiming to influence and support developments on the ground.

The NCPP envisages working with various agencies on conflict avoidance but warns it will not be drawn into dispute resolution, thus avoiding the 'revolving-door syndrome' that on occasion has undermined the status of the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court.

In the coming year, the NCPP plans to:

  • publish guidelines, in association with the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), to assist companies to strengthen the links between workplace partnership, organisational change and the quality of working life;
  • following the publication of these guidelines, develop different models and approaches to organisational change through partnership and publish models of best practice;
  • prepare for discussion a policy document on new and different forms of financial rewards and, in time, look at the possible application of different forms of financial reward in the public sector;
  • provide a forum for discussions on the need to modernise and develop a new vision for the industrial relations system and partnership arrangements;
  • conduct and publish a review of international and Irish studies to establish the benefits of partnership in different settings and identify areas where best practice can be observed;
  • support innovative partnership-based projects, from which the NCPP will develop and disseminate case studies of best practice;
  • continue work already begun on a national training strategy in support of partnership, and establish a national network of trainers and facilitators;
  • in the context of major/radical change programmes, be available to play a 'proactive strategic facilitation role' on the introduction of partnership initiatives; and
  • provide regular commentary, analysis and reviews to make the case for modernising the workplace and workplace relations through partnership. An annual workplace review and outlook will be published.
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