Labour Blog

We need to establish a Brexit Early Warning System

Posted on March 27, 2017 at 10:15 AM

The Government should respond positively to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ proposal to bring together trade unions, employers and other stakeholders and establish a ‘Brexit Early Warning System’ to identify sectors and firms at particular risk of Brexit. There are models from other European countries that can provide guidance here.

The Labour Party has also called for the re-establishment of an Employer-Labour Conference which would complement and support the work of Government and current industrial relations institutions, and is aimed at promoting industrial peace and stability. It previously provided a forum for discussion and review of developments and problems in incomes, prices and industrial relations.

With the advent of Brexit such a forum for social dialogue is critical to address issues as they arise.

The Conference was a bi-partite body with an independent chairman agreed on by both sides. The employer side was composed of 26 employer members of whom five are nominated by the State in its capacity as employer and 21 were nominated by IBEC and State-sponsored bodies. The labour side was composed of 26 labour members nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The Employer - Labour Conference model would work by forging a consensus around the major policy challenges facing this country. Constituted at a national level, it could be supported at a regional and local level through local authority structures, Chambers of Commerce, trades councils and Local Enterprise offices to react to issues impacting local employers and workers as they arise.

Such a ‘Brexit Early Warning System’ through an Employer-Labour Conference should also be tasked with finding policy solutions that can help Ireland adapt to Brexit.

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