I move amendment No. 14:
In page 7, lines 30 to 36, to delete subsection (2).
Section 9 (1) does no more than re-enact section 2 of the Trade Union Act, 1941, which confined immunities associated with trade disputes other than for conspiracy to authorised trade unions, their members and officials. My problem is with section 9 (2). I am dumbfounded that this has attracted so little scrutiny. This is one of the most important issues in this Bill and I believe that the significance of it has been misread, misunderstood and glossed over. First, we have been discussing the very important issue of what constitutes industrial action. Second, under section 11 there is the question of secondary picketing, which is critical to this Bill. Third, there is the question of what is contained in section 9 (2). In my view section 9 (2) is probably the most serious point of the three priorities I have mentioned.
I ask Deputies, especially the Opposition spokespersons, to look again at the construction of section 9 (2). I suspect that they took it, as I did initially, that this was designed to deal with what I call the "mad hatter phenomenon" of the one-man picket who for a grievance, real or imagined, places a picket which stops the entire operation at Dublin port, or somebody like the very colourful lady who waves her crucifix in the air outside Clery's. This does very little harm to anyone and adds colour to the city. However if she were to transfer her picket to Dublin port and other workers were not to pass her, this would be a different matter. I thought that this subsection referred to that and I believe many others think it refers to that and that it is a good thing that we are putting an end to that phenomenon which, I repeat, is the spectre of the sixties haunting this legislation. I do not believe that phenomenon of the sixties has been repeated in recent industrial history, as far as I can recall, but that is not only what this section says. Section 9 (2) states that where in relation to the employment etc. ..... of one individual worker, there are procedures which are normally availed of in the employment concerned, or agreed procedures for the resolution of disputes, including dismissals, sections 10, 11 and 12 shall not apply until these procedures have been resorted to and exhausted. What that means in layman's language is that the immunities conferred by sections 10, 11 and 12 do not apply in the event of one individual worker being dismissed.
I have dealt with a myriad of disputes where the cause was the dismissal of one worker, most often the worker who was instrumental in trying to organise the plant, employment or enterprise and as a result of putting his or her head above the parapet and trying to form a trade union — to which workers have a constitutional right — he or she was dismissed. There are a myriad of other examples but I am just setting out this one. I am sure the House knows that this is a growing phenomenon.
It is only a short ten years since the Industrial Development Authority were telling foreign companies coming into this economy that their workers would be expected to join a trade union. At that time a very high percentage of the total workforce in Ireland were members of trade unions and the IDA asked these companies from the United States, Japan and elsewhere, where there is a different culture from ours, to accept that. That position has completely changed. The IDA no longer do that but I am not quibbling about that because that is not the IDA's job; it is the job of the trade union movement. The number of anti-union employers and non-trade union establishments is growing by the week. Some of these employers are hostile to the concept of becoming organised into a trade union and very often the person who tries to organise it is dismissed as a result.
You, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, may well share the vagueness but good intentions of some of the contributors to the Second Stage debate on this Bill, when all kinds of speeches were made by Deputies who were full of good intentions but, with respect, they do not know a great deal about industrial relations. They may ask what is the problem, and if one goes through certain procedures, if that will not solve the problem. In effect, this provision removes the sanction of strike action in the case of a dismissal.
Employers may no longer fear strike action in the case of a dismissal because by the time the individual worker who is acting on behalf of his colleagues goes through all these procedures, the prospect of a trade dispute in the real world is nil. Many good trade unionists and shop stewards will be penalised as a result of this section.
The Minister referred earlier to The Workers' Party Bill on part-time workers currently before the House. He will recall that in my introduction of that Bill I instanced a number of contracts, to which Deputy Barnes adverted earlier and in her contribution to that Bill that set down procedures referred to in this section. If we take the case of 7-Eleven — I did not name it in the House when introducing the Bill but it has been named since at the shop workers' IDATU conference — young workers coming into employment are asked to sign a contract which is unbelievable and indescribable. Nobody in this House, the Minister included, will deny that. There are procedures there which, according to the owner of that establishment, are inherited from the United States. The young people who so desperately need work agree to sign the contract. That contract contains a whole series of procedures in terms of the kind of dismissal that I have postulated. It is beyond doubt that for any person dismissed, who would have to observe those procedures in section 9 (2), the sanction of strike action does not apply. Effectively the provision removes that sanction. That is a great shame.
I have no objection to dealing effectively with the mad-hatter type picket but I would remind the Minister and Deputy Mitchell, both of whom have adverted to their experience in the trade union movement, that we have always operated on the basis that an injury to one is an injury to all. That is still a cardinal principle notwithstanding changing fashions in the trade union movement. Where somebody seeks to organise an employment and gets the bullet as a result of doing so, his colleagues, in showing solidarity and in attempting to retain him or her in employment, go through the normal procedure with a view ultimately — it seldom comes to that — of taking strike action to protect that person. I cannot believe this could have been the Minister's intention.
I can see how attractive this is to the FIE. It is one of the reasons for their acquiescence to this Bill. This is one of the most serious anti-union measures I have seen in recent years. It entirely changes the balance of power as between worker and employer. The worker has no sanction but to withdraw his labour, and that sanction is being withdrawn in this section. I would ask the Minister to reconsider this matter and to take on board my amendment. Otherwise this section will be inoperable in reality.