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News & Events

Collective Bargaining and Registered Employment Agreements legislation passes all stages in the Oireachtas – Minister Nash

“Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill will allow greater protections for workers and stability for employers”

The Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD has announced that the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2015 has passed all stages in the Houses of the Oireachtas. This legislation provides for significant reforms to Ireland’s industrial relations laws.  

The new law will provide an improved framework for workers who seek to better their terms and conditions where collective bargaining is not in place.  It contains strong anti-victimisation elements to protect workers who pursue such claims and also provides for any collective agreement to be enforced through the Circuit Court, should an employer refuse to do so.   

The legislation also provides a replacement for Registered Employment Agreements in individual enterprises and a new mechanism whereby pay and pension and sick pay provisions in a particular sector can be established, agreed and enforced by Order.  

The new legislation follows recent Supreme Court rulings which found the previous REA framework unconstitutional and, in a separate case, fault with the application of collective bargaining arrangements.   

Minister Nash said, “I believe this new law will form a legally and constitutionally robust basis to improve industrial relations in this country after a period of uncertainty and it is part of a package of measures we are introducing in order to promote the dignity at work agenda.  It will also help to prevent a race to the bottom in terms of pay, skills, training and terms and conditions of employment.” 

“The re-introduction of a legal framework for REAs will be of benefit to both workers and their employers.  Such agreements may be used in resolving industrial disputes or potential disputes – some of which have emerged following the 2013 Supreme Court ruling.  They can also provide certainty into the future for workers and employers, particularly those going through significant change, such as those in Aer Lingus.”  

“The new provisions relating to Sectoral Employment Orders will bring a sense of stability and confidence to both sides of industry who engage around terms and conditions – particularly when the employer is tendering for contracts.   

“Good industrial relations that result in harmonious workplaces serve workers, employers and our country well and this legislation goes to the core of ensuring that the tools are in place to allow that to happen. I wish to pay tribute again to all involved in contributing to the development of these proposals,” Minister Nash concluded.   

This legislation provides new, clear, balanced and evidence-based mechanisms to deal with specific industrial relations issues. It will address particular gaps that exist in protections for workers and the low paid, while also providing stability and certainty for employers and businesses, both domestic and multinational.  

It is expected that agreements that have already been reached at a company level can be registered immediately with the Labour Court, once the legislation is commenced.  

Applications to the Labour Court to begin the process of Sectoral Employment Orders can also begin straight away although they may take some months to conclude.  In situations where companies are refusing to engage with trade unions to collectively bargain on behalf of workers, such claims can also begin to be progressed through the Labour Relations Commission in the first instance.   

The enactment of the collective bargaining legislation is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and was also included the Statement of Priorities agreed by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste in July of last year.  

ENDS  

For more information contact: 

Deirdre Grant 01 631 2227 or 086 0484 279 or 

DJEI Press Office 01 631 2200 or press.office@djei.ie