Interesting article by Dary D'Art in the current issue of LookLeft discussing the reality of the position of trade unions within the Republic. Far from them running the state as a great deal of the media would have you believe, the basic democratic right to have your trade union recognised by an employer does not exist. A Supreme Court ruling of 2007 effectively facilitated the use of house unions (unions controlled by the company regardless of what the employees want) and stands in the way of legislation guaranteeing union recognition where the majority of employees want it.
"In both Canada and the United States employer-dominated bodies, or house unions, have been declared illegal since 1935. Convention 98 of the International Labour Organiation (ILO) – the international body which brings together representatives of governments, union and employers – categorises any workers’ organisation established under the control and domination of the employer as an interference with the right of freedom of association. In addition the ILO definitively dismisses the possibility that negotiation between an employer and employees within a house union or excepted body could ever be considered as collective bargaining. Officially the Irish State endorses Convention 98.
The 2007 Supreme Court judgement seems to even rule out the possibility that a law might be enacted to facilitate union recognition. Generally in countries where such laws are in force they operate on democratic principles. If a majority of employees either within the enterprise or a particular bargaining unit express a clear wish for union recognition then the employer is legally obliged to comply."
Time To Recognise : Look Left
In other words, there's more statuary recognition for trade unions in the United States than in the Republic.
Without an effective and legally-enforceable right to trade union recognition and genuine collective bargaining, Irish workers are being denied their basic democratic rights, and the absence of these rights is helping with the current attack on their living standards. Not that you'll hear much about this in the media, nor about the attack on the rights of workers across the EU the European Court's judgments in the Laval and Viking cases.
The rights of workers of all types are being systematically undermined through an attack on trade unions and trade union rights. They must fight back. D'Art's LookLeft article points to one of the most important aspects of the struggle for a better life and against the failures of the system that offers poor pay and conditions, unemployment and emigration.