Labour hopes for deal on collective bargaining

Party aims to announce the measure on May Day

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Labour Party colleagues on the campaign trail. Photograph: David Sleator

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Labour Party colleagues on the campaign trail. Photograph: David Sleator


The Labour Party is hoping for agreement at Cabinet today on the introduction of compulsory collective bargaining.

A law to ensure that all companies in the State are obliged to enter negotiations with workers’ representatives has been a Labour objective since the formation of the Coalition. The party is hoping to be in a position to announce the measure tomorrow, which is May Day.

At present, workers have a legal right to join a trade union, but employers are not obliged to negotiate with them.

The Coalition parties have been in talks for more than a year on a Labour election pledge to introduce compulsory collective bargaining on foot of a ruling on the issue by the European Court of Human Rights.

The parties have now agreed on a scheme that will oblige companies to negotiate with workers, but not necessarily with trade unions.

Several big foreign multinational firms and some large Irish companies engage with works councils rather than trade unions and provision will be made for this in the collective bargaining system.

Under the measure due to go to Cabinet, employers will have to show that such councils can act independently.

Unions, meanwhile, will have to prove that they have a significant number of workers in a company in order for their right to collective bargaining to be recognised.

Water charges
Also today, the Coalition parties will attempt to settle their differences over water charges as the European and local election campaigns move into full gear.

The Cabinet will discuss water charges this morning in advance of the return of the Dáil in the afternoon following the Easter break.

Both Government parties are hoping the controversies that marred the last Dáil session can be put aside in the run-up to the crucial elections on May 23rd.

It is expected that the Government will move the writs for byelections in Dublin West and Longford Westmeath today or tomorrow so that those contests can take place on May 23rd along with the local and European elections.

Ministers in both Coalition parties are hoping that agreement on a revised scheme for the introduction of water charges can be reached as quickly as possible as the issue has the capacity to dominate the election campaigns.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore met his Ministers yesterday afternoon to have a full discussion of the water charges issue in advanced of today’s cabinet meeting.