Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2015: From the Seanad

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.
Seanad amendment No. 1:
Section 4: In page 6, to delete line 14 and substitute the following:
“(b) paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) of subsection (1) of section 23 of the Act of 1990;”.

This is a technical amendment. It removes references in section 23(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990 to an officer of a vocational education committee and an officer of a school attendance board. These amendments arise from an amendment agreed on Report Stage in this House, which amends a reference in section 23(1) from "a member of staff of an education and training board" to "a teacher employed by an education and training board".

Nílimid chun dul in aghaidh na leasuithe seo ar chor ar bith. Tá géarchéim ag titim amach ag an móimint san earnáil tógála agus in earnálacha eile sa tír seo agus caithfimid dul ar aghaidh leis an mBille agus na leasuithe seo chomh luath agus is féidir.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are cognate and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 2:
Section 43: In page 32, to delete lines 22 to 29 and substitute the following:
“(a) (i) the production of animals, including the production of meat and other animal produce intended for human consumption,
(ii) the sorting and packing of meat and other animal produce, and
(iii) the production, sorting, and packing of crops, including fruit and vegetables, intended for human or animal consumption,
on farm land (within the meaning of section 664 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997), and
(b) horticulture, including market gardening, garden nurseries and nursery grounds;”.”.

Sections 43 and 46 were introduced on Report Stage in this House. Section 43 provides for an amendment to the definition of “Agriculture” in the Industrial Relations Act 1976, for the purposes of giving effect to the Labour Court recommendation on the scope of the agriculture JLC, arising from the 2013 review undertaken by the court of all existing joint labour committees.

In addition, section 46 amends the original establishment order for the agriculture JLC to reflect the new definition in section 43. However, there is a possibility that the new definition of "agriculture" may inadvertently be construed as including meat processing plants within the scope of the agriculture JLC. However, it was the clear intention of the Labour Court recommendation that the definition the scope the agriculture JLC and any ERO emerging from that committee would just cover workers on a farming establishment. Accordingly, an amendment to the definition of "agriculture" in section 43 is necessary to remove any doubt in this regard. A corresponding amendment to section 46, which itself amends the original establishment order for the agriculture JLC, is also required.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 3:
Section 46: In page 33, to delete lines 26 to 33 and substitute the following:
“(a) (i) the production of animals, including the production of meat and other animal produce intended for human consumption,
(ii) the sorting and packing of meat and other animal produce, and
(iii) the production, sorting, and packing of crops, including fruit and vegetables, intended for human or animal consumption,
on farm land (within the meaning of section 664 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997), and
(b) horticulture, including market gardening, garden nurseries and nursery grounds;”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

In the earlier debate on the Bill, I did not get a chance to pay tribute to the officials. A huge amount of legislation on workplace relations has gone through in recent months. I know that enormous work went on in the Department, both by the officials and, to be fair, by the Minister of State, Deputy Nash.

I am grateful to the officials in the workplace relations unit for the huge amount of work they have done in recent months.

Gabhaim mo bhuíochas le foireann an Aire sa Roinn maidir leis an méid oibre atá déanta acu sa Bhille seo. Tá céim chun tosaigh déanta ag an Rialtas anseo. Bhí easpa struchtúir ann ó thaobh na hoibrithe sna hearnálacha sin agus le linn trí nó ceithre bliana anuas tá titim le feiceáil ina dtuarastal agus sna conditions atá acu. Caithfimid an struchtúr a chur isteach chomh luath agus is féidir chun go mbeidh ardú ann sa tuarastal agus ó thaobh na conditions freisin.

Theip ar an Rialtas an deis a bhí acu chun rudaí a dhéanamh níos fearr do na daoine sin. Is mór an trua nach bhfuil an Rialtas láidir go leor nuair a bhaineann sé le collective bargaining agus nuair atáimíd ag caint faoin gCoimisiún um Pá Íseal agus go leor rudaí eile a bhaineann le cúrsaí oibrithe sa tír seo. Ní cheapaim go mbeidh an deis céanna arís ag an Rialtas le fada. Is trua nár thóg siad an deis seo nuair a bhí an seans acu.

Gabhaim mo chomhghairdeas leis an Aire agus leis an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Nash, maidir leis an mBille seo. This is one of the most far-reaching pieces of legislation we have seen in the House in many a long year. There is now collective bargaining, whereas in the past a company could have decided not to deal with a trade union. This issue dates back to 1913, prior to the foundation of the State, when Jim Larkin led the Lockout. Employers now have to engage with workers.

It is also extremely important that once again we have registered employment agreements which had been struck down by the Supreme Court. They affect some of the most vulnerable in society. This was a major consideration for the trade union movement when negotiating on the issue of Aer Lingus.

Although the Low Pay Commission is not referred to in the Bill, it is very much part of the package. The legislation has gone through and the first report is due, I believe, in a week's time or thereabouts. We can now talk about raising the minimum wage and having a living wage. We can look at matters in that context.

This package of proposals is a huge step forward in industrial relations. It will ensure proper pay and conditions and decent standards of work to a much greater degree than in the past. I pay full tribute to all those involved in producing the Bill, including the civil servants and the Ministers of State, Deputies Damien English and Gerald Nash. It is welcome that it was prioritised in the programme for Government.

Seanad amendments reported.

Agreement to the Seanad amendments is reported to the House. A message will be sent to Seanad Éireann acquainting it accordingly.