Date Released: 10 October 2013
The "establishment" will meet moves to legislate for workers' right to collective bargaining with "massive resistance", SIPTU Vice President, Patricia King told the union's Biennial Delegate Conference on Wednesday, 9th October, in the Mansion House, Dublin.
She said that Government moves to give effect to a promise in the joint Programme for Government to enact legalisation on collective bargaining would mark a "turning point for workers".
She acknowledged the legal complexities that exist around the collective bargaining issue, but said that the trade unions had to get to a place where they secure something that have been "denied for one hundred years".
The 2001-2004 Industrial Relations Acts, which she said had been a "strong attempt" to deliver collective bargaining, had been "pulled down" with the Supreme Court judgment in the 2007 'Ryanair' case.
King said they had to find a definition of collective bargaining that did not allow for employer dominance of workplace representative bodies.King told delegates that the union had witnessed a return to wage bargaining in 2012, with twelve of its fifteen sectors recording wage rises last year.
She put the average wage rise in manufacturing at between 2.5% to 3% annually over three years. The union's strategy is based on "keeping jobs" and on "sustainable increases", she said.
On the Haddington Road agreement, King said that section 11 of the services delivery section of the agreement, which covers outsourcing, remains critical to union members. She described this as a "deadly battle" that the union would have to fight, warning that this is an area that constantly threatens members' pay and conditions.
The vice-president said that it seems that the new Joint Labour Committees will be up and running within 6-8 weeks. But she warned delegates to "watch the resistance" that emerges. For many members the new set up would be the pathway to a "living wage".
SIPTU and Mandate were adopting a common template in this area. King added that new legislation would also be needed for new Registered Employment Agreements.