Bruton will not force recognition of unions

COMPULSORY RECOGNITION of trade unions by employers has been ruled out by Minister for Enterprise and Jobs Richard Bruton.

COMPULSORY RECOGNITION of trade unions by employers has been ruled out by Minister for Enterprise and Jobs Richard Bruton.

Commenting on the commitment in the programme for government to review the issue, he said the outcome would not involve compulsory recognition.

Mr Bruton said the issue had arisen because a court had struck down the existing compromise arrangement that allowed the Labour Court to become involved in a dispute where an employer did not recognise unions.

“Under those arrangements you could still go to the Labour Court where an issue was unresolved. And the Labour Court could make a ruling which wouldn’t require recognition of the unions but would still get a decision.

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“Now there was a court case where a decision in favour of Ryanair dramatically undermined the confidence of the unions in the process,” said the Minister.

He added that the issue now was to get back to a system that would work.

The commitment in the programme for government reads: “We will reform the current law on employees’ right to engage in collective bargaining (the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2011), so as to ensure compliance by the State with recent judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.”

Mr Bruton said: “There is not any commitment to recognise unions but to deal with a setback for what was a system put in place to deal with unresolved disputes in employments.

“The system has been damaged by the court ruling and it is to seek to repair that. Obviously there is considerable work to be done. It is one of the elements in the programme for government to be worked on but we are not saying compulsory recognition of unions.”

Mr Bruton said that clearly a lot of US companies in Ireland would be very sensitive to any question of compulsory union recognition.

The Minister also said the Government was determined to deal with the issue of red tape.

He said he was surprised to find when he took office that a commitment made by the previous government in 2008 to deal with the issue was way behind schedule.

“We discovered that only two departments or agencies out of 10 had even measured what their regulatory burdens are. The two that had measured are our own Department of Enterprise and Employment and the Central Statistics Office.

“The other departments hadn’t even a measuring exercise done. We have taken the lead now in getting that measuring exercise completed in phases between January of next year and April of next year,” he said.

He said there were at least 201 areas where the cost of compliance is being measured and an action plan to eliminate them would be developed.

He said that in Britain a system had been introduced that for every new regulation created, one of equal importance had to be removed. “Excess compliance is not a good thing. It is wasteful from everybody’s point of view,” he said.

Pointing to the way Revenue had made online compliance work, the Minister said it just took a bit of imagination to start reducing costs significantly.