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    Decentralised Collective Bargaining in Ireland - National Report

    Paolucci, Valentina and Roche, William K. and Gormley, Tom (2023) Decentralised Collective Bargaining in Ireland - National Report. Other. European Commission, Brussels.

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    The institutional framework for collective bargaining in Ireland is underpinned by the principle of voluntarism. Employers and trade unions voluntarily engage in collective bargaining, and their agreed terms and conditions of employment are not legally binding. Workers have the right to form and join a trade union. However, unions cannot force employers to enter collective bargaining, meaning that there is no legal right to bargaining in Ireland. There is only one trade union confederation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Equally, there is one major cross-sectoral employers’ association, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation. These two organisations played a very significant role in the regulation of the economy during the national social partnership in Ireland between 1987 and 2009, negotiating wage rates for all unionised workers. Since the collapse of the national social partnership in 2009, the main levels at which collective bargaining takes place are the company and the workplace levels. Sectoral bargaining still occurs in a number of low-paid and weakly unionised sectors and in construction and allied sectors. Sectoral bargaining also takes place in public services. Recently, employers and unions have called for a deepening of tripartite social dialogue, and this has occurred in several areas central to Ireland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this emerging forum cannot be considered as a precursor to a new form of national social partnership. Neither unions nor employers favour the alignment of social dialogue directly with pay bargaining in a renewal of the social partnership-type centralised pay agreements of the 1987–2009 era. The main actors involved in decentralised bargaining are, on the side of the union, full-time trade union officials, organising workers at the sector level alongside shop stewards working in companies, and, on the side of the employer, Human Resource (HR) Directors and their delegation of managers, variously composed of the HR Manager(s), Head of Finance, and Operations Manager(s). In the largest companies, which are considered to be pattern setters in collective bargaining, the employers’ association also takes part in the negotiations. There are no works councils within companies in Ireland, and only trade unions with a licence are authorised to sign a collective agreement with their management counterpart. In some companies, particular industrial relations arrangements, whereby trade unions and management collaborate in various areas, such as information sharing, training, and work organisation, can be found. These are called workplace partnerships and are supported by formal workplace participation forums that are used by both management and shop stewards to voice their concerns as well as to discuss any issue that is relevant to the workers and the company. These forums, however, are never the locus of collective negotiations.

    Item Type: Monograph (Other)
    Additional Information: CODEBAR GRANT AGREEMENT No VS/2020/0111 European Commission Comparisons in decentralised bargaining: towards new relations between trade unions and works councils?
    Keywords: Decentralised; Collective Bargaining; Ireland; National Report;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Business
    Item ID: 17119
    Depositing User: Valentina Paolucci
    Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2023 13:10
    Publisher: European Commission
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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