Dispute solutions delayed by third-party intervention

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. The interference of third parties in industrial disputes – such as theGovernment’s recent role in trying to end the firefighters strike – can delay asuccessful resolution. This is the conclusion of a study funded by the Economic and Social ResearchCouncil, which examined the effect of the presence of those not directlyinvolved in the dispute, but who are able to provide additional resources tohelp reach an agreement. The research finds that the possibility that a third-party mediator mayintervene in negotiations creates the potential for delays, by increasing theexpectation that one side can be pressurised into conceding ground orresources. The report was published after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescottthreatened to enforce a pay settlement on the striking firefighters. Paola Manzini of Queen Mary, University of London, who led the study,stressed that third-party mediators can prove beneficial to dispute resolution,provided their role is limited. “On the other hand, so long as the amount of resources the mediator canmake available is sufficiently small, the bargainer’s incentive for a stalemateis reduced,” he said. The study, which was completed in conjunction with Clara Ponsati ofUniversitat Autonoma de Barcelona, highlights the incentive for governments todecentralise negotiations and become ‘active mediators’, rather thandirectly-involved negotiators. Privatisation, for instance, creates a three-party framework, withnegotiations between management and workers, with the Government in the role ofthe ‘active mediator’. The report suggests the Government should use legislation to limit itsinvolvement as much as possible – for instance, by introducing tougherrequirements for firms to consult with the workforce before taking decisionsthat may have a great impact on jobs. But, said Manzini: “Interestingly, the present UK Government seems tofavour these mandatory interventions less and less. The undesired effect, isthat governments progressively become more active players innegotiations.” By Ben Willmottwww.regard.ac.uk Dispute solutions delayed by third-party interventionOn 11 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more