Some employers still "cling" to a 19th century model of workplace relations that refuses to recognise union representation, according to the Communications Workers' Union (CWU) general secretary Steve Fitzpatrick.
This includes companies with “lucrative” State contracts who tend to hold the State’s industrial relations structures in “complete contempt”, Mr Fitzpatrick will tell CWU delegates at the union’s biennial conference in Galway on Wednesday afternoon.
A number of these companies impose “oppressive and intimidating disciplinary procedures on their workers”, and yet consider themselves to be “beacons within their own industries, and examples of caring and enlightened employers”, Mr Fitzpatrick says in a preview of his address released to the media.
Mr Fitzpatrick anticipates the 350 delegates, representing over 15,000 employees in the postal, courier and telecommunications sectors, will call for contractual conditions to be included in all State- awarded contracts.
These conditions would require employers to respect and participate in the industrial relations machinery of the State, including the Labour Court and Workplace Relations Commission, he says.
CWU president Pascal Connolly says that Ireland holds the "dishonourable title of being the most unequal country in the EU".
“ The rise in inequality is driven by the endless attacks on working people and their employment conditions,” Mr Connolly will tell delegates in his address.
“ Economic and workforce policies spawned during the Thatcher – Regan era have pitted workers against the combined forces of business and government,” Mr Connolly will say.
“However, solidarity amongst workers is what they fear most,”he says, adding that it “remains the most effective weapon against these divisive forces”.
The CWU represents over 15,000 workers in the postal, courier and telecommunications sectors, including call centre workers and workers in the 999 emergency call answering service.
Mr Fitzpatrick reports that "good progress" is being made through negotiation at An Post, Eir, Vodafone, HCL and Phonewatch, with wage increases in the 1.5 to 3.5 per cent range being agreed, along with commitments to negotiations on phase two increases as part of these agreements.
Irish Congress of Trade Union chief executive officer Patricia King will also address the conference on Wednesday.