The Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ biennial conference in Dublin must mark “the beginning of a renewed effort to secure the right to collective bargaining for all workers”, according to general secretary Patricia King.
In her speech to delegates, Ms King said ICTU should campaign vigorously for the adoption of an EU Directive “to harmonise the laws of EU member States on Collective Bargaining and thereby establish the right to bargain in Irish Law”.
“If adopted, the doctrine of supremacy of EU law would overcome any lingering doubt around the Constitutionality of any legislative initiative in this sphere,” she said.
We should also demand that our national law determines the right to collectively bargain, the right to trade union activism without penalisation, the right to organise, the right of access for trade unions, the right of access to key employer decision makers for purpose of persuasion on behalf of our members and the right to reasonable time off to engage in representation and trade union training
Mandate Trade Union general secretary John Douglas supported a call for statutory collective bargaining and enforceable access to workplaces for unions. While unions have achieved great advances and gains for workers in both the public and private sector, Mr Douglas said, there is a "continual disregard by certain employers of the right of unions to even exist coupled with the anti-union Industrial Relations Act (1990), which restricts and prohibits mobilising union tactics that helped workers win improvements in their working lives".
Ms King was also critical of the Government’s housing policy, and said “pop up soup kitchens at the GPO” and “families dumped in hotel rooms” were scenes “more reminiscent of Strumpet City than the brash image of our country which some of our political leaders seek to project".
“The housing crisis is a stain on the record of this Government and is the source of great pain and anguish. Several professional reports, over recent months, have highlighted the strong negative effect such living conditions have on the lives of thousands of children,” she said.
She said ICTU is calling on the government to reverse its current housing policy and construct the requisite public housing to provide a home for all.