I thank the Cathaoirleach. I am delighted to be back to discuss this sectoral employment order, SEO. I thank members for their attendance and am pleased to present for their consideration a draft SEO for the electrical contracting sector. This draft ministerial order is being made under section 17 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015. The intention is that this order will confirm the rates of pay, pension and sick pay entitlements for defined workers in the electrical contracting sector. This is the first such order for that sector.
This matter came before the Labour Court by way of application pursuant to section 14 of Chapter 3 of Part 2 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 by the Connect trade union, which represents in excess of 9,800 workers in the sector, the Association of Electrical Contractors Ireland, AECI, which represents 190 electrical contractors employing 2,250 personnel and the Electrical Contractors Association, ECA, which represents 40 electrical contractors employing in excess of 4,000 workers of the class, type or group to which the request relates in the given sector, which they submitted is a "defined economic sector" for the purposes of the 2015 Act.
Having examined the submissions and the accompanying supporting materials, the court was satisfied that the applicants are substantially representative of the workers of the particular class, type or group in the economic sector in respect of which the request is expressed to apply. The court then, as it is required to do, published its intention to undertake an examination of the union and employer’s request and invited submissions from interested persons. Written submissions were received from nine interested parties, namely the AECI, ECA, ECSSA, National Electrical Contractors Ireland, NECI, the Small Firms Association, SFA, the Construction Worker’s Pension Scheme, CWPS, Connect trade union, Dolores Rogers of Kenetic Electrical and Mr. Kieran Fitzpatrick, an individual. Some of the submissions supported the application while others did not. A public hearing was held on 14 March 2019. All interested partied were given an opportunity to be heard. Seven of the nine interested parties attended the hearing and engaged extensively with the court.
Having considered the matter, the Labour Court reached a decision to make a recommendation. In making its recommendation, the court had to consider the factors set out in section 16(2) of the Act. This includes the potential impact of the making of an order on levels of employment and unemployment in the identified economic sector, the potential impact on competitiveness in the economic sector concerned and that the sectoral employment order would be binding on all workers and employers in the economic sector concerned. In accordance with the Act, the recommendation was submitted to me for approval on 23 April 2019. I considered the recommendations in line with the terms of the 2015 Act, relying on the statutory report outlining the Labour Court's deliberative process in reaching its recommendation. I notified the court on 9 May 2019 that I accepted its recommendations.
A draft of the order was laid before the Houses on 9 May 2019 as required by section 17(4) of the 2015 Act. I hope that this committee will recognise the importance of ensuring stability in employment terms and conditions in this sector and will refer the matter back to both Houses for approval so that the order can be given legal effect. When the order comes into effect its terms will be binding across the sector and enforceable by the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC. The electrical contracting sector order will become effective on 1 September 2019.