[Ireland] Strengthen bargaining processes or international law may be broken

[Ireland] Strengthen bargaining processes or international law may be broken
08 Jun 2021

A new trade union-commissioned report has found that Ireland is in danger of breaching international law unless collective bargaining processes are strengthened, Irish Times reports.

The Fórsa report - Collective Benefit: harnessing the power of representation for economic and social progress - says that collective bargaining coverage is at a historic low in Ireland. It says the number of workers who benefit from collective bargaining in Ireland is about 33.5 per cent, the second-lowest among the 14 countries in EU membership since before 2004.

The trade union’s report says 24.4 per cent of workers in Ireland are unionised overall but in the private sector the figure is 18 per cent.

While workers in Ireland have a constitutional right to join a trade union, there are no constitutional obligations on employers to recognise or engage with trade unions.

The new report urges the Government to “harness the productive power of sectoral bargaining” which it says will improve wage levels and pay equality, as well as creating conditions to improve productivity, boost demand, enhance innovation, and deliver greater stability for businesses and their staff.

The report says that while collective bargaining coverage may be at a historic low in Ireland, it is not an inevitability.

“It is not even a regrettable consequence of our service-driven, globally-connected and competitive economy. Other countries in Europe have found ways to increase bargaining coverage, through State support for trade unions and the bargaining process that creates a cultural norm of bargaining throughout the economy. It is vital to the success and stability of the Irish economy, and the protection of workers’ rights, that such a cultural shift occur here.”

Kevin Callinan - Fórsa general secretary - said Ireland remained an outlier in Europe when it came to collective bargaining.

“We are near the bottom of the scale on worker representation and participation in economic decision-making. The contrast is starker if you look at more modern and progressive countries, and this research shows that we are close to non-compliance with international law on the right to be represented by a trade union.”

“Internationally a change of mood is underway. Joe Biden’s administration is starting the process of beefing up collective bargaining rights, and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recently promoted the idea in her State of the European Union address. By contrast, the Irish Government remains out of kilter with this new mood,” Mr Callinan said.

Second-lowest

The general secretary went on to say that Ireland is currently among a group of EU member states seeking to downgrade a European Commission initiative to tackle low pay, income inequality and the gender pay gap by increasing collective bargaining coverage across the continent

Mr Callinan said the proposed EU directive on the minimum wage required Ireland, and other EU member states, to take action to increase to 70 per cent the number of workers who benefited from collective bargaining.

“Coverage in Ireland is currently around 33.5 per cent, placing the country second-lowest among the 14 countries in EU membership since before 2004. There can be no doubt that we have ample room to improve the situation in Ireland,” he said.

Mr Callinan said the report would contribute to the work of the high-level working group, established by the Government in March under the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) which is currently examining how collective bargaining could be developed in ways consistent with competitiveness.

He said the report looked at how other countries in Europe had found ways to increase bargaining coverage, through State support for trade unions and the bargaining process, creating a “cultural norm” of bargaining throughout the economy.

“It is vital to the success and stability of the Irish economy, and the protection of workers’ rights, that such a cultural shift occur here.”



Source: Irish Times

A new trade union-commissioned report has found that Ireland is in danger of breaching international law unless collective bargaining processes are strengthened, Irish Times reports.

The Fórsa report - Collective Benefit: harnessing the power of representation for economic and social progress - says that collective bargaining coverage is at a historic low in Ireland. It says the number of workers who benefit from collective bargaining in Ireland is about 33.5 per cent, the second-lowest among the 14 countries in EU membership since before 2004.

The trade union’s report says 24.4 per cent of workers in Ireland are unionised overall but in the private sector the figure is 18 per cent.

While workers in Ireland have a constitutional right to join a trade union, there are no constitutional obligations on employers to recognise or engage with trade unions.

The new report urges the Government to “harness the productive power of sectoral bargaining” which it says will improve wage levels and pay equality, as well as creating conditions to improve productivity, boost demand, enhance innovation, and deliver greater stability for businesses and their staff.

The report says that while collective bargaining coverage may be at a historic low in Ireland, it is not an inevitability.

“It is not even a regrettable consequence of our service-driven, globally-connected and competitive economy. Other countries in Europe have found ways to increase bargaining coverage, through State support for trade unions and the bargaining process that creates a cultural norm of bargaining throughout the economy. It is vital to the success and stability of the Irish economy, and the protection of workers’ rights, that such a cultural shift occur here.”

Kevin Callinan - Fórsa general secretary - said Ireland remained an outlier in Europe when it came to collective bargaining.

“We are near the bottom of the scale on worker representation and participation in economic decision-making. The contrast is starker if you look at more modern and progressive countries, and this research shows that we are close to non-compliance with international law on the right to be represented by a trade union.”

“Internationally a change of mood is underway. Joe Biden’s administration is starting the process of beefing up collective bargaining rights, and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recently promoted the idea in her State of the European Union address. By contrast, the Irish Government remains out of kilter with this new mood,” Mr Callinan said.

Second-lowest

The general secretary went on to say that Ireland is currently among a group of EU member states seeking to downgrade a European Commission initiative to tackle low pay, income inequality and the gender pay gap by increasing collective bargaining coverage across the continent

Mr Callinan said the proposed EU directive on the minimum wage required Ireland, and other EU member states, to take action to increase to 70 per cent the number of workers who benefited from collective bargaining.

“Coverage in Ireland is currently around 33.5 per cent, placing the country second-lowest among the 14 countries in EU membership since before 2004. There can be no doubt that we have ample room to improve the situation in Ireland,” he said.

Mr Callinan said the report would contribute to the work of the high-level working group, established by the Government in March under the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) which is currently examining how collective bargaining could be developed in ways consistent with competitiveness.

He said the report looked at how other countries in Europe had found ways to increase bargaining coverage, through State support for trade unions and the bargaining process, creating a “cultural norm” of bargaining throughout the economy.

“It is vital to the success and stability of the Irish economy, and the protection of workers’ rights, that such a cultural shift occur here.”



Source: Irish Times

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