Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Financial Assistance to Unions.

5.

asked the Minister for Labour if he will give financial assistance to the ITGWU and FWUI towards reorganisation costs involved in the proposed merger; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

14.

asked the Minister for Labour the amount of money, if any, paid out to the ITGWU and FWUI as a result of the proposed amalgamation.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 and 14 together.

Under the Trade Union Act, 1975, I may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, make grants available to trade unions towards exceptional expenses arising from amalgamation or a transfer of engagements. However, a grant cannot be paid until an amalgamation has been completed. Accordingly no grant has been paid to the ITGWU or the FWUI in relation to the proposed merger of the two unions. If this amalgamation is successfully completed any application for grant assistance from the two unions towards the costs involved will be examined on their merits. It is not possible to say in advance what grants will be paid.

Has the Minister statistics of the number of registered trade unions? Arising out of the development between the FWUI and the ITGWU will the Minister say if he proposes to take any other active steps to encourage further amalgamations between unions?

There are 65 registered trade unions and some of them are affiliated to major unions. There are 74 licences in operation and that represents a drop from 94, the figure 15 years ago. There are about 20 unions involved in talks on amalgamation, formally and informally, and if those talks are successful that figure will be reduced to 11. A number of other groups are either fraternal delegates to or relate to a SIPTU trade union in one form or another or related to other major unions. The figure is reducing rapidly. In the last two years I have been endeavouring to reduce that figure and I believe we are very close to the day when we will have fewer than 50 trade unions. We will be on a declining cycle from there.

May I put a question?

I am calling Question No. 6.