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Latest Industrial Relations News

Employers Criticised for Ignoring Labour Court

09 July 2018

Several TDs and senators were told last week of a ‘growing trend’ among some of Ireland’s biggest employers to avoid unions and ignore the Labour Court when it comes to pay deals and workers.

A presentation by Mandate, one of the country’s biggest unions, criticised employers such as Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Lloyds and TK Maxx – who between them employee 25,000 workers – for not engaging with the industrial relations machinery of the state when it comes to collective bargaining over pay.

As part of the presentation, Mandate’s assistant general secretary Gerry Light said there was a need to strengthen collective bargaining laws. Among the attendees were independent TD Joan Collins, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin and Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart.

It comes on foot of a raft of strikes and threats of industrial action in the private sector, with management from both Lloyds pharmacy and discount retailer TK Maxx in the midst of high-profile disputes with their workers this week. Both companies have declined to meet unions.

Earlier this year a pay dispute between workers and Tesco was referred to the Labour Court after the company declined to deal with the unions. Tesco wrote to the Labour Court to state that while it respected the collective bargaining process, recent events had resulted in the employer “directly engaging with our colleagues on matters of pay and employment” rather than through the union.

Several other companies have been instructed to recognise unions or to engage with them on pay disputes in recent months. Last year, for example, both American semiconductor maker Microsemi, which employs 270 people, and the Irish arm of pharmaceutical company AbbVie, which employs 600 people, were instructed to recognise unions for the purposes of collective bargaining. Neither company attended the Labour Court hearings.

Last October, after a lengthy dispute with outsourcing giant Capita over redundancy talks at its AMT-Sybex subsidiary, trade unions Unite wrote to finance minister Paschal Donohoe to criticise the company’s refusal to engage with the Labour Court’s recommendations.

In addition, social care provider Extern was taken to the Labour Court by workers represented by Unite who were looking force it to recognise their union. It told the court, via its legal firm Beauchamps, that “our client does not recognise [the trade union] for collective bargaining purposes”.

Source: The Sunday Business Post