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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 Feb 1990

Vol. 395 No. 9

Written Answers. - Social Action Programme.

Toddy O'Sullivan


52 Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Labour, having regard to the priorities which he has set for Ireland's EC Presidency, his views on whether our implementation of the social action programme is inimical to the current provisions of free collective bargaining and the introduction of some form of Europe-wide statutory legislation to provide for a minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Our system of industrial relations in this country is based on free collective bargaining. Statute law and European Community instruments have superimposed on this system certain enforceable rights in regard to equal pay, maternity leave, holidays, unfair dismissal and so on. Usually, the enactment or adoption of legislation in areas such as this follows thorough consultation with the social partners.

In the social action programme relating to the implementation of the community charter of basic social rights for workers, further mandatory legislation is proposed on health and safety, contracts of employment, working time, atypical work and information and consultation of employees.

As regards a minimum wage, the Commission's view is that wage-setting is a matter for member states and the two-sides of industry alone. The Commission considers that in matters of employment and remuneration responsibility and therefore initiative lie mainly with the member states and the two sides of industry, according to national practices, legislation and agreements. It has stated that it is not the task of the Community to fix a decent reference wage. The Commission, however, considers that in this field it does have a responsibility to assert its views by delivering an opinion, in close contact with the member states. An opinion from the Commission can, therefore, be expected in due course.