As govt hauled before ILO, ban on collective bargaining for freelancers must go

Ged Nash TD
03 June 2016

Former Minister for Employment, and Labour Party Senator Ged Nash has said the effective ban on collective bargaining for freelance workers must be ended by the new government.

He explained, “Two significant events have occurred this week which requires the Fine Gael/Independents administration to act on this specific matter.

“Firstly, on Wednesday night the Dail expressed its clear view that that the law should be changed to allow freelance workers such as actors, freelance journalists, voice-over artists and others to bargain collectively with their employer.

“Secondly, today the State is being hauled before the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva to explain why it is the case that no such rights exist in Ireland. Furthermore, it is required to give an account of what the State will do to remedy this lacuna. This position is at odds with ILO Convention 98 on collective bargaining rights for all workers.

“Labour has given the government a roadmap as to how we can conform with the Convention. Senator Ivana Bacik published a Bill last November, which the then government did not oppose, which allows Ireland to meet its commitments under ILO convention 98. Similarly, if the will of the Dail is to be respected, then this legislation should be adopted and its provisions implemented immediately.

“Long standing Labour Party policy on this issue is supported by a recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Court has held that a worker is not genuinely independent of his or her employer if the worker acts under the direction of the employer as regards freedom to choose the time, place and content of the work, does not share in the employer’s commercial risk and in reality forms a fundamental and integral unit within the employer’s business or undertaking. This class of worker is accordingly entitled to trade union membership and to bargain collectively. “Legislation to permit self-employed persons in this category, who personally perform work or provide services to collectively bargain with employers while continuing to prohibit them from colluding or price-fixing to the detriment of consumers should be put on the statute books urgently. Not only has the Dail demanded it, but so too has the international community.”

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