IMPACT welcomes draft laws on collective bargaining

governmentbuildingsIMPACT has welcomed news that draft legislation on collective bargaining was approved by the Government this week. The legislation is expected to become law by mid-2015.

General Secretary Shay Cody said “This legislation will allow trade unions to engage in collective bargaining and secure benefits for workers in companies where employers refuse to pay the going rate. It also gives statutory protection against the victimisation of workers in such companies for the first time. We look forward to reading the Heads of Bill when they’re published, which is expected shortly.”

Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, said that the proposals, which will amend the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001, will bring Irish law in line with recent European Court of Justice rulings. He said that, in order to improve the working of the Act, legislative provision will be made to provide:

  • a definition of what constitutes “collective bargaining”,
  • guidelines to help the Labour Court identify if internal bargaining bodies are genuinely independent of their employer,
  • clarity in the process of trade unions advancing a claim under the Act and
  • policies and principles for the Labour Court to follow when assessing those workers’ terms and conditions.

Minister Nash added, “The Government is conscious that workers in some employments may feel exposed in seeking to improve terms and conditions and that making themselves known may have unwanted consequences. With this in mind the legislation will bring in significant protection against such victimisation. This will be done by way of interim relief in the Circuit Court in circumstances where a dismissal is challenged by a worker who believes that he or she was victimised as a result of the Act being invoked.”

ICTU general secretary David Begg commented, “While we must await publication of the draft legislation we are nonetheless very pleased with the progress represented by the Government decision. The absence of a proper framework for collective bargaining since the infamous Supreme Court decision in Ryanair (2007) has been a major impediment to trade unions trying to advance the pay and conditions of workers. Collective bargaining is an essential requirement of the workplace if growing inequality in society is to be arrested.”