Hayden welcomes passage of Bacik bill

20 January 2016

I am delighted to have seconded Senator Ivana Bacik’s Competition (Amendment) Bill 2016 which passed through Second Stage in the Seanad tonight.

This Bill marks a very important step on a road which will enhance the security of income and opportunity for a number of self-employed professionals. To date the rigorous tests applied under the Competition Act 2002 have meant that while a number of trades and professions such as actors, journalists, photographers, writers, musicians, bands, dancers, construction and trade workers, various professionals and temporary workers for hire in the hospitality sector among others can be members of trade unions , their Union cannot engage in any representative activity on their behalf.

This prohibition does not recognise the reality of the different bargaining strengths of the parties and must be changed. As Competition Law currently stands self-employed persons working who seek to achieve rates of pay through collective bargaining could be prosecuted. This leaves these workers inherently vulnerable. Many unions, such as the NUJ and SIPTU, have sought the change in the law that this Bill will achieve.
There has been an increasing trend towards atypical employment where workers are not protected by the right to collectively negotiate. This situation can only lead to a race to the bottom. We have seen a move away from traditional full time employment and we must take into account that changing employment pattern while firmly committed to ensuring that workers are protected. We are increasingly seeing people trapped in precarious work and we must question as a society if the balance between the legitimate needs to ensure healthy Competition has gone too far in preventing us protecting those who are in work? This Bill says firmly that it does and its passage today is the first step on the road to genuine negotiation rights for many Irish workers.

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