The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) says it will campaign for the adoption of a European Union directive on collective bargaining in order to establish a ‘right to bargain’ in Irish law. It says it will work through the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in an effort to harmonise EU member states’ collective bargaining laws through a common directive.
In a publication launched at the ICTU conference last week, Congress also says it will seek to persuade the Irish Government to support the move.
Despite recent improvements in Irish laws governing collective bargaining, the accepted legal view is that union recognition is not enforceable under the Irish constitution since the Supreme Court has held that employers can legally refuse to recognise unions.
However, if an EU directive were adopted, ICTU believes “the supremacy of EU law would overcome any lingering doubt around the constitutionality of any legislative initiative in this sphere.”
Route to Reform: Realising the transformative effect of social dialogue and collective bargaining in Ireland also calls for rights to organise and participate in trade union activities, time off for union activities, and access to workplaces for union officials.
“There is an almost total absence of any statutory protection for penalisation on grounds of trade union membership or activity,” it says.