Collective bargaining rights
Sir, – Martin Wall (“Collective bargaining rights would cost jobs – Ibec”, June 28th) states, “The generally accepted legal position in Ireland is that while workers have a right to join a trade union, employers do not have to negotiate with trade unions and that any engagement is voluntary.”
“Generally accepted” by whom?
Certainly not by the trade union movement and not by many legal experts, here and abroad.
The phrase “legal position in Ireland” seems to indicate that a different position prevails to other jurisdictions and that European and international obligations do not matter in our wonderful Republic.
The UN Declaration on Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests”. (article 23.4);
There are two core ILO conventions which are also extremely relevant in any review of the right to collective bargaining:
C98 “Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention”, 1949 and C87 “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention”, 1948.
The oft-derided Lisbon Treaty provisions mean that the EU institutions and member state institutions must interpret EU laws in a manner consistent with respect for trade union rights – including rights of freelancers to collectively bargain – recognised in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
For too long these rights have been trampled on, and in this the centenary of the 1913 Lockout, the only fitting memorial is the introduction of long overdue legislation on collective bargaining.
The right to freedom of association without the right to collective representation is about as useful as a lighthouse in the Bog of Allen. – Yours, etc,
Irish Secretary, NUJ,
Spencer House, Dublin 1.