News & Media

Labour launches Sectoral Employment Order Confirmation Bill

25 June 2020

Statement by Ged Nash TD
Spokesperson on Employment and Social Protection

In the wake of the High Court ruling which struck down the Sectoral Employment Order bargaining system, Labour TD Ged Nash today (Thursday, 25th June)  published a Bill that, if passed by the Oireachtas, would see the terms of the three existing (purported) Orders – electrical, construction and mechanical engineering – given the full force of law through a short Act of the Oireachtas.

Labour’s Employment Spokesperson, Deputy Nash explained:

“The High Court found the way in which the electrical Sectoral Employment Order had been given effect by the signing of a Statutory Instrument by the Minister and its subsequent approval by both Houses of the Oireachtas to be in conflict with the Constitution.

“In order to fix this urgent matter for the tens of thousands of workers and all of the businesses that were covered by these Orders, we are proposing, in essence, that this defect be addressed by converting the terms of the three purported Orders into primary legislation that would have to be debated and adopted by the Dail and Seanad in the normal way.”

The Louth & East Meath TD continued;

“This week’s judgement has had a chilling effect on the conduct of industrial relations in this country. I wrote yesterday to the Minister for Business to urge her to immediately appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court.

“Since before the foundation of this State, our society and indeed our legislature (as expressed in the 1946 Act which gave effect to the Registered Employment Agreement system) has taken the view that sectoral collective bargaining systems represent an important public policy goal designed to provide for decent wages, agreed basic terms and conditions and to support good businesses against rogue operators.

“For almost 70 years, these systems operated without any questions posed as to their constitutionality. The last decade has seen a relentless series of attacks on these established public policy principles and practices.

“Our proposals today represent a short-term fix to an urgent problem and can help provide certainty for workers and decent business and avoid industrial unrest which was one of the key tenets of Chapter 3 of the 2015 Industrial Relations Act.

“Sectoral bargaining systems such as SEOs and Joint Labour Committee are the European norm and they need to be defended in the interests of fairness, decency and economic justice and to avoid social dumping.

“In my view, our industrial relations laws can be amended to address the defects identified by the High Court and Labour will lead the way on this.”

Details of the Bill can be found here https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/seo_confirmation_bill_2020_.pdf