Electricians suspend strike after pay rise proposed - The Irish Times - Mon, Jul 13, 2009
When reading the front page article in the Irish Times this morning I was left wondering whether this settlement will be the end of the dispute even if the ECA and the AECI sign up to it. The NECI were excluded from negotiations again and in doing so is this simply setting the scene for a high court challenge to the REA itself? That's something that would have implications reaching far wider than just the electricians themselves.The National Electrical Contractors of Ireland (NECI), a breakaway employers’ group which is not part of the negotiating process, said it was “in complete dismay of the Labour Court’s recommendations”.
Chief executive Denis Judge, said that “in a judgment on February 29th, 2009, after the longest hearing ever held in the LC, the Labour Court rejected a proposed increase of €1.05.” The economy had substantially worsened since then, he said but now “the Labour Court has recommended a 4.9% increase”.
He added that if the decision was ratified “it is nothing other than a black day for the Irish industry”, where the black market would thrive and dole queues will increase. The association’s members would be balloted on the issue.
Mr Devoy said that it was irrelevant what Mr Judge’s “outfit” decided because they too would have to adhere to the agreement.
Earlier this year the NECI began a legal action against the electricians’ payment process because it was not party to the negotiations.
I got the impression that the fundamental issue for the unions in the dispute was the principle of the REA continuing to be the basis by which pay and conditions were set in the sector and that pay was a secondary (although not insignificant by any stretch of the imagination) consideration. The pay settlement on the table falls quite a way short of the TEEU's initial demands so does that support the idea that the protection of the REA the ultimate issue?
So why exclude the NECI? Was there no chance of their signing up to any kind of agreement if they were allowed to the table? Was it the ECA and AECI that forced their exclusion in order to protect their own patch? Were the TEEU willing to talk to them? The quotes from Eamonn Devoy seem to suggest that the TEEU are of the opinion that the NECI will be bound by the agreement or is he just maintaining a positon knowing that the field is merely being narrowed so that there is only one employers body left outside the tent?
I just get the impression that, even if the ECA and AECI sign up to the deal which is far from certain, this one may rumble on for quite a while yet.