News & Events

High Level Working Group convened to review collective bargaining and the industrial relations landscape in Ireland

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD today announced the setting up of a High-level Working Group under the auspices of the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) to review collective bargaining and the industrial relations landscape in Ireland.

The Tánaiste said:

“The approach to industrial relations in Ireland is one of voluntarism, whereby the State does not seek to impose a solution on the parties to a dispute but will, where appropriate, assist them in arriving at a solution.  This approach has served us well for many years. 

“However, whilst there is an extensive range of statutory provisions designed to back up the voluntary bargaining process, some of these are currently subject to legal challenge. In the light of this and international moves to look more closely at how employers and trade unions engage on matters of mutual interest, I now consider it timely to review collective bargaining and the industrial relations landscape in Ireland.”

The Tánaiste has nominated Professor Michael Doherty, Department of Law, Maynooth University as Chair of the group, the membership of which will include senior representatives of union and employer sides nominated by ICTU and Ibec, Professor Bill Roche of UCD and officials from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and the Department of the Taoiseach.

The Group will:

  • Examine the issue of trade union recognition and the implication of same on the collective bargaining processes.
  • Examine the adequacy of the workplace relations framework supporting the conduct and determination of pay and conditions of employment, having regard to the legal, economic, and social conditions in which it operates.
  • Consider the legal and constitutional impediments that may exist in the reform of the current systems. In doing so, the group will need to be cognisant of the individual employment rights frameworks and the EU context. It may wish to consider other models of employee relations and pay determination established in other Member States.
  • Review the current statutory wage setting mechanisms and, where appropriate, make recommendations for reform.  This aspect will commence following the Supreme Court ruling in the National Electrical Contractors Ireland case that is currently before the Labour Court - expected in Q2.


The group will report quarterly to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment who will, in turn update the LEEF. The Group will convene in mid-April with the aim of producing an interim report by the end of July 2021 and completing its work as soon as possible thereafter.


The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, D/Enterprise, Trade and Employment, or (01) 631-2200