The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has recently recommended that the dual role of an employee and Shop Steward should be recognised and protected by the employer.

In the industrial relations case, it was recommended that the WRC Code of Practice on Duties and Responsibilities for Employee Representatives in the workplace should be adopted by the employer to “arrive at a readily recognised accommodation for the co-existence of the dichotomous role of employee first and shop steward second.” 

SIPTU Workers Rights Centre Advocate, Julia Sweetnam, said: “This case was in relation to a disciplinary sanction that was imposed on our member, after he represented a colleague, in his role as a SIPTU Shop Steward. Our member had a dialogue with his Line Manager, which constituted an attempt at advocacy on behalf of a colleague and was then disciplined for this action. The vitally significant frontline work of a SIPTU Shop Steward cannot be underestimated and it is of critical importance that Shop Stewards are protected in their role.”

The Adjudicator stated in their decision that, “In the spirit of a collective leap forward I recommend that SIPTU and IBEC, together with the worker and the employer meet within four weeks of this recommendation to design and agree on a relevant and applicable

incorporation of the Code of Practice for Employee Representatives for this workplace”.

SIPTU Organiser, Ciara McMahon-Flavin, said: “The outcome of this case allows us to develop and protect our representatives on site. It is never easy for an employee to be singled out and it can be very challenging to stand up and say this is enough.” 

The SIPTU Shop Steward said “I am very pleased with the outcome of the case and the recommendations that were made by the Adjudicator. They facilitate us working with my employer to put measures in place to protect the role of Shop Steward and the work we as employees carry out in that role.”