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Government rules out legislating for right to trade union recognition – Cullinane

6 March, 2012

The Government has rolled back on pre-election and Programme for Government commitments to provide for mandatory trade union recognition according to the Sinn Féin workers’ rights spokesperson Senator David Cullinane.

The Waterford Senator was responding to comments made by Minister Richard Bruton in the Seanad.

Senator Cullinane said:

“Clear commitments were given by the previous government during the course of the Lisbon treaty debates that a right to collective bargaining would be provided for. Clear commitments were given by the Labour party before the last general election that legislating for a right collective bargaining was a priority for them. Indeed a clear commitment was made in the Programme for Government that they would ‘reform the current law on employees’ right to engage in collective bargaining, so as to ensure compliance by the State with recent judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.’

“This evening Richard Bruton told us that it is not the Government’s intention to introduce a mandatory requirement upon employers to recognise Trade Unions for Collective bargaining purposes. Furthermore he has ruled out including the right to collective bargaining in the programme of topics to be considered by the Constitutional Convention.

“This is a clear row back on previous commitments to provide a right to collective bargaining. A right cannot in reality be considered an effective right if it cannot be vindicated. What value is a right to collective bargaining if the employer is not also obligated by that right to recognise the trade union and their right to bargain? What Minister Bruton is talking about here is not a right to collective bargaining, but a legislative framework to merely encourage employees and employers to engage in collective bargaining, rather than obliging them. This is not what workers and trade unions were promised.

“We are fast approaching the 100th anniversary of the 1913 lockout, one of the most momentous and significant industrial disputes in Irish history. It would be a disgrace if we were to reach that anniversary with no effective right to trade union recognition.

“I call on the Government to explain Minister Bruton’s comments, and to clarify whether or not they intend to provide for such a right to collective bargaining.”

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