News & Media

Any conversation on collective bargaining rights is welcome but Government's motives have to be questioned

30 March 2021

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

A review on collective bargaining underway will start important conversations said Labour Employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock, but questioned the motives of such a review if there is no commitment from the government to improvements.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Ireland stands apart from most other EU member states in not having a right to be recognised for collective bargaining purposes in this country. Therefore the establishment of a working group to review collective bargaining and industrial relations in Ireland is important.

"However, we cannot ignore the reality that the Tánaiste is actively working to undermine a draft EU directive which would ensure each member state facilitates collective bargaining arrangements for workers within its country.

"Furthermore, this announcement is a bit rich given that the Labour Party’s Sick Pay bill will this week pass second stage in the Dáil having been delayed by the Tánaiste for six months. Last September, the Government sought to postpone the passing of our bill in order for them to work out what type of sick pay legislation they wanted to enact. Six months on from that vote and a year on from the start of this pandemic when thousands of workers have been directly impacted by the absence of sick pay, we still have no clue as to the Government’s intentions.  

"With all that said, I would have to question what the ultimate motive and intention of the Government is with regard to this announcement today.

"In January, the Tánaiste co-signed a letter with a number of other member states expressing concern about the legality of the directive. This expressly went against the strong view of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise Trade and Employment and that of the legal opinions commissioned by the Committee.

“I look forward to seeing what emerges later in the summer, and how sectoral and business interests will respond to any proposals that would improve the rights of workers to collectively bargain.

"The views of those representing workers must be taken seriously and we need clear progressive action arising from it.

“The Labour Party has campaigned to guarantee everyone the right to be represented at work by a trade union, and require employers to negotiate with the representatives of their workers. We would legislate for the right to collective bargaining and ensure a right of access for trade union representatives to workplaces including through constitutional change if needed”.