The Department of Industrial and Employment Relations takes a proactive approach towards the settlement of trade disputes. Officials of this Department make a special effort to mediate and conciliate litigants in order to bring them to amicable settlements and avoid strikes or other forms of industrial action.
Defining a trade dispute
A Trade Dispute is a dispute between employers and workers, or between workers and workers, which is connected with any one or more of the following matters:
(a) terms and conditions of employment, or the physical conditions in which any workers are required to work;
(b) engagement or non-engagement, or termination or suspension of employment or the duties of employment, of one or more workers;
(c) allocation of work or the duties of employment as between workers or groups of workers;
(d) matters of discipline;
(e) facilities for officials of trade unions;
(f) machinery for negotiation or consultation, and other procedures, relating to any of the foregoing matters, including the recognition by employers or employers’ associations of the right of a trade union to represent workers in any such negotiation or consultation or in the carrying out of such procedures;
(g) the membership or non-membership of a worker in a particular trade union.
Procedure followed in case of a trade dispute
Where a trade dispute exists or is apprehended, the parties to the dispute may agree to refer the dispute to the Director of Employment and Industrial Relations or to a conciliator chosen by the parties or in disagreement, by the Director from amongst the conciliation panel appointed under the EIRA. Where a trade dispute exists or is apprehended and the parties fail to nominate or to agree on the appointment of a conciliator in terms of the above, or where an appointed conciliator reports a deadlock, the Director of Industrial and Employment Relations refers the matter to the Minister responsible for Industrial and Employment Relations and copy such referral to the parties to the dispute. The Minister may, if he thinks fit appoint a court of inquiry to inquire into and establish the causes and circumstances of the dispute. He also may, on an application by both parties to the dispute, refer such trade dispute to the Industrial Tribunal.