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That new law on working hours… April 30, 2019

Posted by Tomboktu in Business, Collective Bargaining, Employment Rights, Labour relations, Trade Unions, Workers Rights.

Last week, we got two opposing views on whether the changes in the law on working hours are an improvement for workers. (The changes came into force in March.)

On Tuesday, Mandate’s communications officer, David Gibney, had an article on the Irish Broad Left for ‘yes’, and on Friday, two academics at the Kenny Business School in the University of Limerick, Juliet Mac Mahon and Tony Dundon, had an article in the Irish Times for ‘no’. (The article by MacMahon and Dundon does not refer to Gibney’s and the fact that their article was published a few days after his seems to be a coincidence rather than an explicit response to Gibney’s article.)

LookLeft Trade Union Forum, Wednesday 22 April 6pm April 16, 2015

Posted by Garibaldy in Trade Unions.
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LL TU Forum 3

Ireland breaches human rights laws on workers’ rights January 29, 2015

Posted 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.

JobBridge and union discipline June 10, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Austerity, Employment Rights, Trade Unions.

An interesting item in the June 2014 issue of In Touch, the magazine of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), available to read online here.

On page 9, we have the following:

JobBridge Directive

Following extensive consultation with members and discussions at an INTO Branch and District Officers’ Conference on 12 November 2011, the CEC decided at a meeting on 17 November 2011 not to support the JobBridge National Internship Scheme for graduates. The scheme is viewed by INTO as being exploitative of newly qualified teachers.

The union backed that up with a Directive to members “not to participate in the JobBridge National Internship Scheme”.

The article does not clarify what the union means by “participate”. But it has caused problems within the union.

Since May 2013, 28 complaints against 22 members have been received and have/are being processed under Rule 104 and 105 of the INTO Rules and Constitution. These complaints have all been made by members alleging that an identified INTO member breached the INTO directive. In all cases, concilliation was unsuccessfully attempted to bring about a resolution of the matter.

When it was originally issued, that Directive led to queries, and in August 2013 the union’s

CEC confirmed its view to district secretaries […] that the INTO directive on JobBridge applies only to teaching positions within a school, but included posts advertised with other titles that were clearly designed to recruit a qualified primary teacher to a teaching poition.

It is not a good position for a union to be in to have 22 members, even in a large union like the INTO, undergoing a disciplinary process.

What the article does not provide information on is whether the 22 are newly qualified teachers who are alleged to have taken up JobBridge placements or are others such as school principals who are alleged to have recruited or facilitated the recruitment of qualiied teachers into JobBridge placements, or a combination of both.

It would be interesting to see if the directive could have any bite and provide the basis for the union to take legal indistrial action.

Bob Crow: Partisan of the Working Class March 11, 2014

Posted by Garibaldy in Trade Unions.

Bob Crow with SeanBob Crow with Sean Garland at the Jim Connell festival in May 2010

Interview with Bob Crow from LookLeft

Tragic news from London of the death of the RMT general secretary Bob Crow at the age of 52. Bob Crow was an inspirational union leader, a determined defender of public services, and an unabashed communist. He was an incredibly effective leader of the RMT, growing the union, and achieving a great deal for its members. But his defence of standards in public transport was about much more than the interests of his members. It was not just about public safety. It was also about his vision of society and public responsibility. It was a consequence of his socialism. His opposition to the neo-liberal agenda of the EU saw Crow help form the No2EU campaign. He was never someone trapped in a simply trade union consciousness: he understood that the struggle for workers’ rights and a better society was an economic and a political one, that needed waged on all fronts.

The enemies of the working class knew the value of Bob Crow, resulting in a consistent campaign of vilification, led by the Daily Mail. Only yesterday, he was asked to defend his salary on BBC Radio, and happily did so. His members knew his value to the union, just as the Tories did.

Bob Crow took a keen interest in progressive causes across the globe, and especially in Ireland. He and the RMT opposed the extradition of Sean Garland, actively supported the Jim Connell festival in Meath, and recently co-sponsored the publication of John Callow’s James Connolly and the Re-Conquest of Ireland. We in The Workers’ Party will never forget the support given by Bob Crow and the RMT.

His own description of Connolly stands as a memorial to Bob Crow.

a leader of enormous integrity, bravery and vision

Locked out February 27, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in media, Trade Unions.


Perhaps it will get a proper airing later in the year

ICTU Calls for an End to Protests and Condemns Attempted Murder of Police Officer December 12, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in Trade Unions.
1 comment so far


Speaking after the attempted murder of a PSNI officer and the ongoing disruption on our streets, Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary of the ICTU said:

“The NIC-ICTU condemns the attempted murder of a police officer last night, as she protected the office of an MP who is, in turn, under threat.

“The trade unions further call for a complete halt to all protests, pickets, and violent and verbal attacks related to the issues of flags, on any building in Northern Ireland.

“We also call on the elected representatives in the NI Assembly and local government to suspend motions calling for the raising or lowering of flags with immediate effect.

“At last, the leader of one of the main unionist parties has called for the end of street protests related to flags, but others still repeat that protests are all right as long as they are ‘peaceful’, ‘dignified’ and ‘good-humoured’.

“The trade union movement has years of experience of bringing people onto the streets to protest against violence from all perpetrators, and for equality and justice, but there are rules that we follow. The first rule is the priority of the safety of all who participate and who witness the protest – No one gets hurt. That means dealing with the civic authorities well in advance and ensuring that the protest is well-stewarded by competent people who are clearly identifiable. We always co-operate in advance with the PSNI, Road Service, Translink, local government and anyone else who may be affected, to ensure that the first rule is obeyed, and everyone goes home safely.

“Calling for others to take to the streets and then walking away from the consequences is the act of a coward.

“In the past week, we have seen attacks on public buildings, on the homes and offices of public representatives and on the police. There has been an escalation in sectarian attacks. An MP is living in fear for her life. Sinister men are working in the background and an identifiable fascist is cheered at the gates of Belfast City Hall.

“This is not a ‘crisis’ of Irishness, Britishness or cloth. This is a crisis of our democracy and our society’s willingness to listen to facts and not self-serving myths about identity.”

SIPTU: Charting a New Economic Course November 20, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in Trade Unions.

A Left-friendly email service provider? October 15, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Community, Ethics, Internet, Other Stuff, Society, Trade Unions, Workers Rights.

Hi Folks,

My main email account has been with ireland.com since the 1990s. Today they sent an email to say they are closing the service in less than a month (so the domain can be transferred to Tourism Ireland).

I could simpy transfer everything to my back-up gmail account, and may do that simply to ensure that I have the data. However, I was wondering of any readers of CLR know of a Left-friendly email service provider?

So, what would be Left-friendly? My ideal would be one run as a co-op, and I wouldn’t mind paying for that, but I’ve no notion if there are any or if any I might find thrpugh an internet search are secure or reliable. My second preference would be one run by a company that recognises unions. (When I got my first mobile phone, I checked with the CWU to see which providers recognised it and/or other unions. The initial reply gave me a list of companies where the union has members, but I did get an answer the specific question a few days later. I don’t know how often the union gets a query like that.)



Dear Account Holder,

The Irish Times and Tourism Ireland today announced a digital content cooperation agreement to promote Ireland as a tourist destination. The agreement spans a number of areas, including the sale of the ireland.com domain name to Tourism Ireland. Tourism Ireland will use the ireland.com url to attract more web traffic and enhance the promotion of Ireland overseas.

As a result, we wish to inform our @ireland.com email subscribers that the service will be discontinued from November 7th, 2012. From midnight on this date, you will no longer be able to send or receive messages. You will, however, be able to access your account until December 7th for the purpose of transferring any data (i.e. emails, tasks, documents, appointments and/or contacts) currently saved on your account. We are writing to advise you of this change and to ensure the transition to a new service provider is as seamless as possible.

To aid the transition, we have provided a step-by-step guide and FAQs on ireland.com and a helpline has been established to assist wherever possible. The helpline will operate between 8am and 8pm weekdays on telephone 1890 876 666 or 01 685 6999 or email customerservice@digitalworx.ie .

We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to our valued customers.

John O’Shea

Head of Online, The Irish Times

Garda body seeks trade union rights July 20, 2012

Posted by Tomboktu in Human Rights, Labour relations, Trade Unions.

[Cedar Lounge Revolution isn’t a news site, but it looks like we may be the first to report on a development that has been made public in recent days. I haven’t seen this reported in any news media, and I coudn’t find any reference to it in searches, including on the GRA, AGSI and EuroCOP websites.]

A legal compalint has been lodged against Ireland for its refusal to allow members of An Garda Síochána join a trade union.

The complaint has been brought under a human rights charter at the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe.

The European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) lodged the legal challenge in June with the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), a parallel structure to the European Court of Human Rights. The legal challenge was made public by the ECSR on Wednesday.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 states that “a member of the Garda Síochána shall not be or become a member of any trade union”. It allows gardaí to form staff associations without full trade union status. The two main bodies established for that purpose are the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI)

The document initiating the legal challenge states that the staff associations do not have access to the Labour Court or the Labour Relations Commission. “The police associations are not allowed to join an umbrella organisation such as ICTU. This means that the police organisations are kept out of the overall negotiations that ICTU conduct on behalf of their members, such as those on salaries”, EuroCOP says.

The Irish law is alleged to breach three articles of the Revised European Social Charter: the right to organise, the right to bargain collectively, and the right to information and consultation.

The case is being taken by EuroCOP on behalf of the AGSI because complaints against a state must be taken by a European organisation registered with the Council of Europe.


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