Mandatory trade union recognition ‘damaging’

IBEC has claimed any concession by the Government to mandatory trade union recognition will not only be unconstitutional but will also threaten the creation of thousands of jobs.

The employers’ body said it strongly opposed any attempt to force employers to have to negotiate with trade unions acting on behalf of its staff.

IBEC director Brendan McGinty said Ireland’s “voluntarist” industrial relations tradition had been a key part of the country’s economic success.

“Now, during a period of economic crisis, flexibility in industrial relations is more important than ever if we are to find a sustainable path to recovery,” he said.

“Mandatory trade union recognition or a legal right to collective bargaining would not create a single job in this economy and would instead threaten many thousands of jobs by damaging our capacity to attract and retain inward investment. Irish employees are already well protected by a raft of employment legislation.”

IBEC said “speculation” on the issue arose from the provisions of Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which refers to a right of collective bargaining and action.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said IBEC was engaging in “reprehensible scaremongering”.

“If you are trying to build an economy based on low wages, low pay and low standards then of course you see the right to union recognition as a threat,” said ICTU assistant general secretary Sally Anne Kinahan.

“If IBEC’s scaremongering had any substance, then the economies of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden would be in crisis and they would have record levels of unemployment, given their unionisation rates of between 70%-80%.

“Instead, they sit consistently in the Top 10 of the world’s most competitive, dynamic economies,” Ms Kinahan said.

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