FF/FG/GP attitude to EU Workers’ Right law is laid bare by “do minimum” attitude

26 May 2024
  • EU directive on Adequate Minimum Wages offers great opportunity to lift workers out of low paid trap.
  • Officials from Minister Peter Burke’s department have said no legislative change is required.
  • Trade unions tell us that significant legislative changes are needed to give effect to the spirit and intent of the directive.

Labour Dublin candidate for the European Parliament Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said there is a very real risk that the great potential of the EU’s Adequate Minimum Wages directive will be lost because of the Government’s “do minimum” attitude to workers’ rights.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“This directive provides us with a real opportunity to lift the 23% of workers classified as being low paid, out of that trap, in this country.

“It affords trade unions a real fighting chance to ensure workers can access trade unions without fear or recrimination to then collectively bargain. The directive is a crucial vehicle for the trade union movement here in Ireland to overcome the shocking situation where Ireland stands as the only EU member states where workers do not have a right to be recognised for collective bargaining purposes.

“The Irish Government has a deadline of this November to ensure our law reflects the ambition and intent of the EU directive designed to broaden collective bargaining coverage and crucially to promote, build and strengthen the capacity of “social partners” namely trade unions, to engage in collective bargaining.

“Article 4 of the Directive sets out explicitly that member States shall provide a framework to enable and promote collective bargaining if coverage is less than 80% in a member state. ICTU tells us that Ireland’s collective bargaining coverage currently stands at 34%.

“Shockingly, officials from Minister Peter Burke’s department have informed the Seanad Select Committee on EU scrutiny that no legislative change is required at present to transpose the directive.

“We shouldn’t really be surprised by this attitude by the three party coalition. Historically, FF and FG have had the same “do minimum” conservative attitude to EU legislation in terms of transposition of the procurement and other directives. It was very late in transposing the recent work life balance directive and Ireland’s poor record continues with the country currently ranked as one of the worst for incorrectly transposing EU legislation.

“In order to implement the intent of the Adequate Minimum wages directive, we believe the employer veto over sectoral wage bargaining mechanisms needs to end and we want to end all obstacles to workers accessing unions.

“In order for workers to easily and freely access unions, we need to ensure that the chill effect of egregious employer behaviour is removed.

“Significant reform of the Unfair Dismissal Act  is needed to send a message that worker victimisation and union busting activity will not be tolerated. Finally, we believe that public procurement is a crucial incentive to rewarding the many good employers out there.”

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