Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Questions (25)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

25. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on collective bargaining rights for employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33576/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

It has been the consistent policy of successive Irish Governments, including this one, to promote collective bargaining through the development of an institutional framework supportive of a voluntary system of industrial relations that is premised upon freedom of contract and freedom of association and underpinned by a legislative framework, including the Trade Union and Industrial Relations Acts. There is also an extensive range of statutory provisions designed to back up the voluntary bargaining process, together with long-established dispute settling institutions that play an important role in disputes relating to collective bargaining.

In the absence of a practice of voluntary collective bargaining, subject to agreed qualifying criteria, the Industrial Relations Acts, 2001 & 2004, provide for a mechanism by which the fairness of the employment conditions of workers in their totality could be assessed. A 2007 decision of the Supreme Court in Ryanair v The Labour Court impacted on the process to be followed where issues pursued to the Labour Court under the Industrial Relations Acts, 2001 and 2004 to resolve problems between employers and workers on employee representation issues where that could not be done through existing procedures.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to reform the current law on employees' right to engage in collective bargaining (the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001), so as to ensure compliance by the State with recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. With this in mind, in late 2012, I wrote to relevant stakeholders inviting their observations on the matter. Submissions have been received and follow up meetings took place between Departmental officials and stakeholders up to end May 2013. Legal advice on issues arising is awaited.

I hope to be in a position to put proposals to Cabinet later this year. In this context, I am certain that satisfactory arrangements can be put in place that will reconcile Ireland's constitutional, social and economic traditions, and international obligations, whilst at the same time ensuring continued success in building Ireland's domestic jobs-base and in attracting overseas investment into the economy.