40 years of industrial mediation service
25 January 2012
A significant player in New Zealand’s industrial history celebrates 40 years in operation today.
What is now known as the Mediation Service of the Department of Labour was set up under the leadership of J D Gibb on 25 January 1972 to address the growing number of stoppages and the increasing complexities of industrial relations in New Zealand.
Between 1960 and 1970 the number of industrial stoppages increased from 60 to 323 and the Industry Mediation Service and its mediators were focused on rights, disputes and developing new methods of working with unions.
The new industrial mediation service was designed to provide another form of dispute resolution to that provided by the existing conciliation and arbitration options.
Last year, the Mediation Services completed over 6000 mediations.
“The 70s were a time with a high level of costly industrial action, and mediation proved to be an extremely effective dispute resolution tool,” says the Department of Labour’s Chief Mediator, Judith Scott.
“Mediation has continually been extended in the past forty years – we’ve now got 32 mediators in New Zealand - and since 2000, mediation services have been available through the Department to everyone in an employment relationship,” Ms Scott says.
“Our service is internationally recognised as a leader in employment dispute providers. The confidential nature of most of the work carried out by mediators means that little is publically know about the cases they are involved in.
“They work in the background to resolve and prevent industrial problems occurring in employment relationships. Their work on occasions is high profile but these cases are a small percentage of the work undertaken.
“Mediation provides a confidential process where problems can be discussed and issues clarified. Our aim is to find solutions to employment relations problems that parties involved can accept.”