Fast-food operators win High Court case against JLCs

The fast-food sector has taken on the joint labour committee system and won.

The fast-food sector has taken on the joint labour committee system and won.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney is still reading his judgment but he has found provisions in the Industrial Relations Acts establishing the JLC system are constitutionally invalid.

He has found that they give unfettered discretion to the committees to set out minimum pay and conditions for workers complete with criminal sanctions for employers who don't comply with the terms.

Under the constitution the Oireachtas alone has legislative powers.

Meanwhile, Chambers Ireland has today welcomed the High Court’s ruling that the JLC system is unconstitutional after a group of fast food outlets challenged the JLC system of setting wages for workers.

Seán Murphy, Chambers Ireland Deputy Chief Executive said: “The Chamber Network has continuously called for an examination of JLCs, in particular the unnecessary conditions they imposed on employment in the sectors they cover such as Sunday premium pay rates.”

“Job retention and creation is a top priority for business. Today’s ruling should have a positive impact on the Government’s plans to reform these wage setting mechanisms, and in turn help to create more jobs in the future,” Murphy concluded.

IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, also welcomed the ruling by the High Court in the Quick Service Food Alliance case that the JLC wage setting system is unconstitutional.

IBEC urged the Government to accept the court's decision and not attempt to resurrect this unconstitutional mechanism in some other form.

IBEC Director Brendan McGinty said: "Ireland has the second highest minimum wage in the EU and more than 40 employment protection statutes, there is no need for this clumsy and bureaucratic wage-setting system. The JLC system was set up more than half a century ago and has long since outlived its relevance. To get people back to work we need a flexible and competitive labour market.

"Rates of pay and weekend premium payments should be set by free and voluntary agreements at a sectoral and workplace level, not through the arbitrary mechanisms of the JLC system, which the courts have rightly ruled against.

"The JLC system is at odds with the economic needs of the country. Many of Ireland’s regulated wage rates are too high by international standards and are a major stumbling block to regaining competitiveness and creating jobs. Getting rid of outdated and unnecessary employment regulation is not only essential in getting people back to work, it is part of the reform programme agreed with the EU and IMF."

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