New legislation is due later this year on minimum wages and collective bargaining

EU Directive on minimum wages and collective bargaining

An EU Directive on minimum wages and collective bargaining must be transposed into law by the Government by November of this year.

The Directive requires countries where less than 80% of workers are covered by collective agreements to introduce new measures to promote collective bargaining between unions and employers.

It is estimated that only around 34% of workers in Ireland currently have their wages and conditions bargained collectively.

The EU Directive requires Ireland to promote constructive, meaningful and informed negotiations on wage-setting between trade unions and employer bodies.

Unions join forces

Several of Ireland’s largest trade union groups have joined forces calling for significant reforms to be included in the Governments legislation guaranteeing greater protections for employees in the workplace.

The Government is being asked to ensure that workers have a legal right to organise a trade union in their workplace and are protected from discrimination and dismissal while doing so.

According to the unions, Ireland has the weakest workers’ protections in western Europe. They say that the right to organise a trade union in the workplace and associated protections against discrimination and dismissal for workers and employee representatives is the ‘norm’ across Europe. This is not the case in Ireland, according to the unions.

They say that Ireland is also ‘out of step’ with European norms when it comes to a worker’s right to access information in the workplace. In many European countries workers have a right to access a union official in their workplace in order to get advice and support.

The unions are calling for legislative change and the strongest possible transposition of the EU Directive, not a watered-down version.

Implications for Employers

The implications for the vast majority of employers are huge. Employers should consider next steps and plans arising from the forthcoming legislation.