News & Media

Sherlock & Nash: Power of the Oireachtas ‘vindicated’ in Supreme Court judgement on Sectoral Employment Order legislation

18 June 2021

Statement by The Labour Party
  • Good day for workers and trade unions

Labour Party spokesperson on employment affairs Senator Marie Sherlock, and Ged Nash TD, have welcomed the judgement of the Supreme Court today in overturning the High Court’s ruling that the provisions of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, which Deputy Nash brought through the Oireachtas while Minister, was unconstitutional. 

Senator Sherlock and Deputy Nash said that the power of the Oireachtas to delegate authority to Ministers for legitimate social aims has been vindicated by the ruling. 

They warmly welcomed the Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Oireachtas’s power to establish sectoral bargaining frameworks and  on the constitutionality of the right of the Oireachtas to delegate responsibility to the Labour Court on these matter. 

Deputy Nash said:

“Today’s judgment is an important one for workers, for the trade union movement, for decent employers and in terms of the right of the Oireachtas to enact legislation for the common good and in order to promote the principles and practices of sectoral bargaining. It is also crucially important for those other SEOs in existence.” 

In his ruling this morning, Justice Peter Charleton said:

“The 2015 Act seeks to promote or to preserve high standards of training and qualification and by a subordinate body searching for, and the Oireachtas ultimately approving, fair and sustainable rates of remuneration. All these are objectives well recognised in a modern democratic society that strives for both economic dynamism and for social protection; an aim that becomes unachievable in chaos or stagnation. These must be recognised as being legitimate matters which the Oireachtas can pursue or seek to achieve”.  

Senator Sherlock said:

“We welcome that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the 2015 Act. We welcome the ruling of the Court to uphold the constitutionality of the Labour Court’s role in approving sectoral employment orders. Most importantly, in this judgement today, we recognise and warmly welcome the Supreme Court’s vindication of the right of the Oireachtas to be able to legislate for legitimate social and economic aims.” 

Deputy Nash said: 

“As the author and sponsoring Minister who marshalled this ground-breaking legislation through the Oireachtas, I feel that the Supreme Court judgment is a vindication of the work we did on this. 

“I was confident that the relevant section of the 2015 Act fully addressed the key issues identified by the Courts in previous judgements that had effectively struck down the former sectoral bargaining system known as Registered Employment Agreements.

“I now look forward to trade unions and employers in a wide number of economic sectors utilising this progressive legislation to work towards SEOs in a wide range of economic sectors.”