“The pandemic has shown us how important ‘essential workers’ are. To deny them their human right to be represented by a trade union now after risking their lives to keep our economy and society going would be a slap in the face,” said Brian Forbes, Mandate National Coordinator.
Mandate Trade Union is calling on all TDs to support the Trade Union Representation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill when it is voted on in the Dail tomorrow (Thursday, 8th October).
The Bill would allow workers the right to negotiate their own pay and conditions of work where the employer already allows collective bargaining through staff associations.
Mr Forbes explained: “When Mandate members in Lloyds Pharmacy joined Mandate and campaigned for basic entitlements like sick pay, management at the company decided to establish and fund a staff association that they would be able to control. This is a well-known union busting tactic imported from the United States. What this Bill would do is prevent a company from side-stepping workplace democracy.”
He added, “Today is World Day for Decent Work and what that means at its most basic is that workers should have decent pay, workplace safety, paid sick leave and representational rights. The only way to achieve any of them is to ensure the latter is afforded to workers now.”
Ireland has one of the worst records when it comes to employment rights with workers in Ireland not entitled to employer funded sick pay or collective bargaining rights. Mandate believes now is as good a time as any to improve worker’s conditions of employment.
“What would we have done had retail and other essential workers refused to go to work during this pandemic? The whole place would have shut down. To think that those very workers who put their health and their lives on the line, and their families health on the line, could be denied these fundamental basics by a government that insisted we were all in this together. Well here’s an opportunity to show that the sacrifices made by frontline workers across this country are adequately rewarded.”
Mr Forbes explained that the Bill, if passed, would not make collective bargaining mandatory and we still have a long way to go to ensure workers have a voice at work.
“This Bill is very welcome, but it’s only part of what is required if we are to facilitate decent work in Ireland. It doesn’t afford all workers full collective bargaining rights, it simply says an employer can’t pick and choose who has a voice at work.
He added, “We also need sick pay entitlements, stronger legislation to enable the right to strike, and trade unions need the right to access workplaces.
“Tomorrow TDs get to show whether they or grateful for the sacrifices workers have made in recent months, or whether it’ll be the same old anti-worker agenda. We’re calling on all TDs to do the right thing,” said Mr Forbes.