Ireland breaches human rights laws on workers’ rights January 29, 2015Posted by Tomboktu in Collective Bargaining, Council of Europe, Employment Rights, Human Rights, Ireland, Labour relations, Trade Unions, Uncategorized, Workers Rights.
Ireland fails to meet nearly half of its legal obligations on workers’ rights under European human rights law.
Legal conclusions (45-page PDF here) by the European Committee of Social Rights concerning workers’ rights were published by the European Committee last week. The Committee assesses compliance with the Revised European Social Charter.
The findings show Ireland is not in conformity with the human rights requirements on workers’ rights in 10 out of the 22 provisions that Ireland has ratified. Ireland is in conformity with 11 of those provisions, and the government did not provide enough information for the legal situation on the remaining ratified provision on labour rights to be assessed.
The 22 individual provisions are spread across eight articles in the European Social Charter, which is the main sister instrument to the European Convention on Human Rights. The provisions that were examined govern standards in just conditions of work, fair remuneration, workers organising, collective bargaining, worker participation in determining and improving working conditions and working environment, dignity at work, protection of workers’ representatives in their workplaces, and information and consultation in collective redundancy procedures.
Ireland’s minimum wage rates were found to breach European human rights standards because people on the lower bands did not earn enough to have decent standard of living, which is defined as half of the average net wage in the State.
A further illegality was found because the Payment of Wages Act does not place an absolute limit on the total amount of deductions from wages by an employer and because the Government failed to show that the act is applied in practice in a way that preserves workers’ means of subsistence. “Situations in which the portion of wages remaining after deductions may not be adequate to ensure the subsistence of workers and their dependants may consequently still exist”, the Committee found.
The lack of domestic laws requiring overtime work is paid at a higher rate than basic pay was also found to be a breach of the Charter. The Committee was told by the Government that overtime rates are negotiated at the level at which basic pay and conditions of employment are normally settled — meaning in an individual firm or across an industry or sector. No evidence was produced to show how this works in practice, despite the Government being asked to provide the information following a previous assessment of the legal situation in 2007.
Curiously, although the European Committee did refer to the Haddington Road Agreement for the public and civil service in assessing other aspects of the Charter, it did not mention that Haddington Road breached European human rights law on overtime because it required certain categories of worker to provide the first hour of overtime not only without a higher rate of pay, but without any pay. That part of the Haddington Road Agreement expired in 2014.
The European Committee identified three ways in which Irish law on sacking workers breaches human rights requirements. The notice period in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act are inadequate. The Committee said that this illegality was identified as far back as 1973. It also said that the scope of the illegality on this point has been expanded since Ireland was last assessed because the law on minimum terms was extended to cover civil servants. A third breach was found concerning instant dismissal of a worker for misbehaviour. The European Committee found that the standard that is contained in Irish law is too weak, and that instant dismissal can be justified only in cases of “a serious offence” and not the lower threshold of “misconduct” set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act
In examining the situation here on working time, the European Committee warned the government that contracts where workers must be available for work but are later regarded as resting if they were not actually given work are illegal under human rights law. It asked the government to give the Committee information on the rules that apply to on-call service when Ireland next reports on the right to just conditions of work. However, the Committee did have enough information to find that Ireland’s laws do not conform to the human rights standard on hours of work because it allows workers in the merchant shipping sector to work 72-hour weeks.
A separate breach was identified by the European Committee because there are inadequate safeguards in Ireland to prevent people working for more than twelve consecutive days without a rest period.
A number of Irish rules on trade unions were found to be illegal under the Revised European Social Charter. Although some forms of closed shops have been unconstitutional since the 1960s, the European Committee found that the right to freedom of association was not fully protected because pre-entry closed shops and post-entry closed shops when they apply to newly recruited employees are not definitively illegal.
Irish laws on the licensing of trade unions breach human rights law in a number of ways. The Unfair Dismissals Act is inadequate because does not protect workers from being sacked for trade union activity if the union does not have a negotiating license. Another breach is that under Irish law a trade union that does not have a license — and the union’s officials and members — can be sued by an employer, and an employer can sack all employees in an unlicensed union for taking part in a strike.
The ban on the garda staff associations such as the AGSI and GRA from joining Congress was also found to be a breach of human rights law, re-iterating a finding in 2014 in a case take by the AGSI (42-page PDF here). A number of other specific breaches of human rights law for gardaí from the AGSI case were also found to be still relevant in the new conclusions, including the complete ban on any Garda ever striking.
Although the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 applies to all workers, Ireland does not conform to European legal standards because the government did not show that workers exposed to occupational health risks are entitled to appropriate compensation measures such as reduced working hours or additional holidays.
The conclusions were published last week, some time after the work on drafting them and equivalents for 40 other countries had been completed. In the intervening period, the legal findings of the European Committee for Social Rights were described as “non-binding” by the Minister for Defence in the Dáil. It will be interesting to see if they European Committee responds to that attack when it next publishes conclusions or a decision on a case from Ireland.
The Revised European Social Charter contains 31 articles and under the reporting procedure, the European Committee of Social Rights states’ compliance with approximately a quarter of the articles each year.
Although the 2014 conclusions on labour rights were published by the European Committee last week, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has not publicly responded to the findings.
from 1992…. An unlikely solution for unemployment October 14, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in Ireland, Irish History.
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And in today’s news August 29, 2013Posted by Tomboktu in Complete nonsense, Economy, Ireland, Journalism.
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At 11.50 today, breakingnews.ie has a telling juxtaposition with its top three news items in Ireland. The headlines were, in order
(1) Jobless total down 22,000
(2) Emigration figures continue to rise
(3) 30 new jobs in Kerry as discount retailer announces new store.
When you opened story (2), it revealed that the number who had emigrated was 89,000.
Saw this at the back of a copy of the freesheet The Southside People recently and dug it up online. Its a very interesting piece of History giving a sense of the time, just after the rising when the various leaders were sentenced to death, Life Imprisonment or Ten Years. There are profiles of Thomas Clarke, Padraig and William Pearse, Thomas McDonagh, Joseph Plunkett, W.T Cosgrave, Countess Markievicz and more. Whats particularly interesting is the profiles of those less well known but had prominent roles in the Rising.
Click on the image to enlarge
Shamrock Rovers XI V Brazil 1973 January 15, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in Ireland, Irish History, Sport.
Forty years ago , Brazil, the 1970 World Cup winners visit Dublin for a historic friendly match against a team composed of players from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Unable to officially call themselves an “All-Ireland” team, the Irish side takes on the moniker of “Shamrock Rovers XI” All Ireland selection lined out in Shamrock Rovers colours to play the then world champions Brazil in Lansdowne Road.
Brazil won 4-3
The State’s position on the rights in the kind of situation before Savita Halappanava’s death November 17, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Bunreacht na hÉireann, Ethics, Feminism, Health, Human Rights, Ireland, Medical Issues.
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Here is what the government says is the official procedure to be followed in the kind of situation that preceeded Savita Halappanava’s death, as explained by the Government to the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, and summarised by that Court in September 2010. [I have added the emphasis. Here they are dicussing the case of “C”.]
189. As regards the third applicant specifically, the Government made the following submissions.
In the first place, they maintained in response to a question from the Court, that the procedure for obtaining a lawful abortion in Ireland was clear. The decision was made, like any other major medical matter, by a patient in consultation with her doctor. On the rare occasion there was a possibility of a risk to the life of a woman, there was “a very clear and bright line rule provided by Irish law which is neither difficult to understand or to apply because it is the same law that has been applied under Section 58 of the 1861 Act, under Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution and under the legislative provisions of every country which permits a pregnancy to be terminated on that ground”. As to the precise procedures to be followed by a pregnant woman and her doctor where an issue arose as to such a possible risk, it was the responsibility of the doctor and a termination could occur when the risk was real and substantial. If the patient did not agree with that advice, she was free to seek another medical opinion and, in the last resort, she could make an emergency application to the High Court (as outlined above). The grounds for lawful abortion in Ireland were well known and applied. Referring to the Medical Council Guidelines, the CPA Guidelines and the evidence of practitioners to the Committee on the Constitution, the Government considered it clear that, while there were issues regarding the characterisation of medical treatment essential to protect the life of the mother, medical intervention occurred when a mother’s life was threatened, the refusal of treatment on grounds of moral disapproval was prohibited and a patient was entitled to a second opinion. While the Irish Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists had no published guidelines concerning a pregnant woman presenting with life threatening conditions, that Institute would be in agreement with the Guidelines of the United Kingdom Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists concerning the management of ectopic pregnancies and it was probable that Irish gynaecologists would “by and large” follow the latter Guidelines with or without minor amendments or additions. This clear process of how a decision to terminate a pregnancy was taken in Ireland by the patient in consultation with the doctor was regularly followed in the case of ectopic pregnancies./blockquote>
[You may wish to know that Ireland was found by the European Court of Human Rights to have breached the human rights of “C”.]
The 90-page PDF is available here.
Tax and income — a detail of our political priorities November 11, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Ethics, Ireland, Justice, Taxation Policy.
This morning, I saw the breakningnews.ie story on what I assume is a “Sunday press release” from Mattie McGrath. The answer to a parliamentary question he asked established that 1,700 employees in four Irish banks
earn receive more than €100,000 each.
In a moment of (poor-taste) whimsy, I wondered if anybody in IBEC is rewriting Martin Niemöller’s famous poem:
First they came for the top civil servants,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a civil servant.
Then they came for the judges,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a judge.
Then they came for the balied-out bankers,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a balied-out banker.
But I don’t think they need worry. I don’t hear the high earnings in the private sector questioned — whether that is the publicly traded companies whose financial results are public records or the legally private firms (like Dunnes Stores), where all is secret.
What I did hear though, was that on Friday, our good deputies put some time into debating Eoghan Murphy’s Tax Transparency Bill 2012. I am not surprised that the deputies understanding of tax transparency is ineffective and that the Bill is pointless. Real tax transparency would follow the Nordic model, where the amount of tax paid by everybody is a public record.
Declaration of the 4th European Transgender Council September 9, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Gender Issues, Human Rights, Inequality, Ireland, LGBT Rights.
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I received this in an email today.
Declaration of the 4th European Transgender Council on transphobic and racist violence and harassment, targeted at three Council participants
We the participants and organizers of this 4th European Transgender Council condemn the transphobic attack directed towards three participants of our Council in Dublin – two of the newly elected steering committee members and a Council of Europe official. Two years ago delegates were attacked during the 3rd European Transgender Council in Malmö (Sweden). We are shocked and deeply concerned that this type of violence has been repeated in Ireland. Once again it has been proven that no space is a safe space for trans people.
On Saturday night, 8th September 2012, a group of ten delegates were on their way to the Council’s social events in the Temple Bar District. Two persons, unknown to them, targeted our Turkish Steering Committee member, Kemal Ördek, and physically and verbally attacked hir and hirs colleague Laura LePrince from France. Lauri Sivonen, Advisor to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, intervened to protect the delegates and the attackers spat in his face before leaving the scene. Due to the fact that their first target was one of our Turkish delegates, we assume that the attack was not only based on trans- and homophobia, but as well on racism and xenophobia.
Lauri Sivonen, accompanied by a representative of TENI, reported the incident on Saturday night to An Garda Síochána. Kemal Ördek and Laura LePrince will give a report at the garda station as well. The gardai are expected to ensure that the delegates will have a chance to report in a safer space with respect to their gender identity and expression. TGEU has been assured that TENI will observe and follow up on the process.
In view of the above,
We require An Garda Síochána to
Investigate this case quickly, properly and without any trans-, homo- or xenophobic or racist prejudice. Implement a trans-inclusive monitoring system that will effectively record transphobic incidences. Have LGBT trained liaison officers on duty 24 hours. Collaborate with TENI to make Dublin and Ireland a safer space for trans people.
We demand that the State of Ireland
Ensure that gender identity and gender expression are explicitly covered by equality legislation and work to develop hate crime legislation that protects all trans people. Collaborate with Irish trans organizations and support their work to make Ireland a country that does not tolerate bigotry, discrimination or violence against trans people. Raise awareness that trans people’s equality and human rights must always be respected thus making sure that such incidents cease to happen. Protect trans people’s private life through gender recognition legislation that fully respect human rights according to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe’s Recommendations and the Yogyakarta Principles.
Dublin, 9th September 2012.
“The Dail Bonds Film 1919” September 3, 2012Posted by irishelectionliterature in History, Ireland, Irish Politics.
The film is shot at St Enda’s in Rathfarnham, (Patrick Pearse’s school) and was used to promote The ‘Republican Loan’.
Historically it has an all star cast featuring amongst others Michael Collins, Margaret Pearse, Grace Gifford, Nora Connolly,Arthur Griffith, Eoin MacNeill, Erskine Childers and W.T. Cosgrave.
More details on the film and those that appear in it.
Any ideas about this poster? August 31, 2012Posted by irishelectionliterature in Ireland, Irish Politics, The Left.
A poster that I was sent recently (many Thanks) that I have little or no idea about.
I’m not sure when it is from , the circumstances it refers to and if it was produced by the Dublin Council of Republican Congress, its hard to make out at the bottom of the poster.