Mandatory Union Recognition: Is It On Its Way In Ireland?

Author:Mr Bryan Dunne, Brian Buggy and Deirdre Cummins

The system of industrial relations in Ireland is essentially a voluntarist one, which renders it unusual by comparison with other jurisdictions. Under the current system, whilst employees are legally entitled to join a trade union of their choosing, there is no concomitant obligation on employers to recognise any trade union, unless of course they decide to do so.

The Government has come under increasing pressure from unions to deliver on a campaign promise of mandatory trade union recognition. At the end of November 2013, the Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister), Eamon Gilmore, announced at the Labour Party's National Conference that the Government would begin the process of legislating to give employees the right to engage in collective bargaining. He outlined that Labour had agreed in the Programme for Government to reform the current law on employee rights to engage in collective bargaining, so as to ensure State compliance with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Back in February 2013, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, formally requested submissions from all interested parties on collective bargaining. The Minister...

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