News & Media

Time for stronger collective bargaining and trade union laws

2 July 2019

Statement by Senator Ged Nash
Spokesperson on Employment and Social Protection

The Labour Party’s spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Senator Ged Nash has echoed the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s call for stronger collective bargaining and trade union legislation in Ireland.

Senator Nash said:

“The Labour Party is proud of its track record of work and delivery for low paid workers.

“Improvements to sectoral collective bargaining laws we introduced have seen a major boost to the pay and terms and conditions of well over 200,000 construction workers, electrical and mechanical workers, contract cleaners and security workers.

“Unfortunately but not surprisingly the further advancement of collective bargaining rights does not feature in this government’s agenda.

“Moves today by ICTU on collective bargaining will help to shift the conversation. 

“I am extremely encouraged by the unequivocal demand made by ICTU today for the securing of full collective bargaining and trade union representational rights.

“The most searing and damaging forms of inequality in the Ireland of today are economic in nature.

“There is a sharp divide between the best paid in our society, and those in working class and lower middle class households.

“Taxes and social transfers can only do so much, and we have to work to address the serious imbalance in market incomes.

“This can only be done by active and encouraged trade union participation and representation within a solid legal framework.

“It is time to call out the ‘voluntarist model’ of industrial relations that exists in this country.

“We must move to a system informed by European norms where no side of industry has a veto over the other and where State labour relations institutions are respected by all. Ireland should not be an outlier.

“International law recognises the right of workers to form a collective when entering into dialogue and negotiation with their employer around wages and working conditions.

“Irish law recognises the right of workers to organise, but it does not require employers to deal with trade unions or other workers’ collectives. This is a major gap in workers’ rights in Ireland that Labour is determined to fill.

“When policy makers congratulate themselves on reaching a form of ‘full-employment’, they rarely stop to think about the quality of that employment.

“It is time to turn the dial and move the conversation to quality employment and full trade union recognition.

“I am looking forward to playing a role with our colleagues in ICTU and the wider trade union movement on this island on advancing an ambitious but timely and necessary conversation and campaign on collective bargaining.”