Survey claims strong support for partnership at enterprise level

A study by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, published in June 1999, claims that there is a "strong movement in Irish companies in favour of employee consultation, financial involvement by employees, teamworking, training and development of employees and other means of making enterprises into partnerships that work".

According to an Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) survey, published on 22 June 1999, Irish companies are introducing a range of "partnership"-type measures in cooperation with their employees (IE9811264N). The survey was based in a sample of 400 enterprises - all with 50 or more employees - and employing a total of 207,847 workers between them. The vast majority are private sector companies but there is also an unspecified number of commercial semi-state and non-commercial state organisations. Unionised and non-unionised companies are both included, across all regions, sectors and sizes.

IBEC says that the development of partnership within individual enterprises is a key element of Ireland's current three-year national agreement, Partnership 2000 (P2000) (IE9702103F) and that it fully supports the "letter and spirit" of the agreement: "Enterprises are competing fiercely with one another in an increasingly global market; this requires more cooperative relationships between management and employees and management and trade unions. Clearly, enterprise partnership must be such that it helps to make enterprises more competitive."

According to IBEC. the survey reveals a "strong movement in Irish companies in favour of employee consultation, financial involvement by employees, teamworking, training and development of employees and other means of making enterprises into partnerships that work". It highlights the following findings:

  • 87% of the companies surveyed use team briefings;
  • 78% consult on company plans;
  • 63% have teamworking;
  • 58%, covering almost 150,000 employees, provide some form of financial involvement. In 80% of these cases, the schemes are open to all employees;
  • 57% provide employees with high levels of job autonomy;
  • 44% have jointly created partnership/involvement initiatives with their trade unions;
  • 30% have or are considering a formal partnership agreement with a trade union, which "would seem to indicate that partnership arrangements tend to be set up without necessarily being part of formal agreements";
  • 7% provide training beyond the requirements for the person's current job;
  • 65% provide "soft skills" training which helps the development of employees' personal skills.
  • 92% have established formal channels for reporting defects and hazards, while 70% have jointly created safety statements and 84% conduct regular safety meetings between management and employees; and
  • almost two-thirds have examined their personnel and industrial relations practices and procedures, conditions of employment and collective agreements for their possible impact on equal opportunities.

IBEC says that the practical arrangements put in place at local level are largely tailor-made by employers and employees to match the needs of the particular enterprise: "As with so many matters, what is socially desirable is generally what is commercially sensible and vice versa. IBEC will continue to work to encourage partnership arrangements that boost the effectiveness and competitiveness of enterprises," states the employers' organisation.

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