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Background information on industrial relations in Ireland

  • 02 Dec 2009
    Ireland: New study examines persistence of gender pay gap

    In September 2009, the Equality Authority and the Economic and Social Research Institute issued a report on the gender pay gap in Ireland in 2003. It revealed an unadjusted gap between men’s and women’s hourly wages of 22%, which is mostly due to gender differences in observable characteristics, such as education levels, labour market experience, job and company characteristics. However, when accounting for such factors, the remaining unexplained gap was nearly 8%.

  • 20 Nov 2009
    Ireland: Second time around Irish vote yes for Lisbon

    On 2 October 2009, Ireland voted yes for the Lisbon Treaty by a margin of just over two (67.1%) to one (32.9%). One of the main areas of debate between the yes and no sides has been the perceived industrial relations impact of the treaty on pay and employment conditions. Ireland’s deep recession has clearly had an impact on the scale of the yes vote, following the original no vote in the first referendum, which took place in 2008.

  • 10 Nov 2009
    Ireland: Main opposition party backs new collective bargaining model

    Ireland’s main political opposition party, Fine Gael, has expressed support for collective bargaining rights, a move that represents an important shift for the party. Fine Gael proposes that employers should establish employee representative committees. If these are undemocratic or fail to deal with disputes, trade unions should be allowed to apply for a union recognition ballot. Such a model could be more amenable to multinational investors in Ireland.

  • 14 Oct 2009
    Ireland: New figures confirm pay trends in private sector

    Latest figures on earnings and labour costs from the Central Statistics Office show that average earnings in the private sector are not falling as fast as some media reports have suggested. However, a major survey of wage settlements by the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation demonstrates that pay freezes predominate across economic sectors as competitiveness gradually improves.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Ireland: Government to trim industrial relations bodies in cost-cutting exercise

    The Irish government is considering a massive €5.2 billion list of expenditure cuts as part of a major effort to deal with the state’s fiscal crisis. The spending cuts could result in significant changes for the formal industrial relations dispute resolution agencies and various social partnership bodies. The proposed cuts were recommended by a special group set up to examine exchequer spending and identify areas for expenditure and staff savings.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Ireland: Dispute over pay rise for electricians despite court ruling

    A five-day strike by 10,000 electricians, who are covered by a mandatory registered sectoral pay agreement, came to an end in July after the Labour Court recommended that a 5% pay rise be granted, albeit at a somewhat later date. However, the 5% pay increase is again in doubt after two key employer groups voted to reject the dispute resolution proposals. An investigation into the dispute has since been launched to prevent further strike action later this year.

  • 18 Sep 2009
    Ireland – Greening the European economy: responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners

    This contribution examines the green agenda in Ireland as of June 2009, and considers responses and initiatives by the Irish Government and the social partners, particularly in the context of Ireland’s current recession. With Ireland deep in recession, the green agenda could be a vital means of future employment creation.

  • 15 Sep 2009
    Ireland: Flexicurity and industrial relations

    This article outlines the main national flexicurity policies in Ireland as of January 2008, considers the positions of the social partners on flexicurity, and provides a few examples of notable workplace collective bargaining agreements encompassing flexicurity issues.

  • 12 Aug 2009
    Ireland: Employer survey reveals pay freezes in majority of companies

    A detailed survey of members of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation shows that, while marginally more employers have increased pay for production workers compared with those who have cut wages, a majority of companies have decided to freeze wage rates. Meanwhile, some employers plan to introduce changes to other employment conditions over the next three to six months, while others wish to change the pay structure for new recruits.

  • 28 Jul 2009
    Ireland: Exploring a sustainable model of workplace partnership

    Drawing on two in-depth case studies, a new book examines whether practices relating to workplace partnership between employers, employees and trade unions can generate mutual gains for the various workplace stakeholders. It concludes that mutual gains partnerships at workplaces are possible, but they are only found where special circumstances exist. The book argues that such coalitions are vital if Ireland is to develop its productivity potential.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    Ireland: Large media organisations to cut pay as revenue falls

    Some of Ireland’s largest media organisations have either introduced pay cuts or are in the process of doing so, owing to the sharp fall in advertising revenue. Among those affected are Ireland’s national broadcaster, Radio Telefís Éireann, and the two main national newspapers, the Irish Times and the Irish Independent. A career-break scheme has also been proposed at another Irish newspaper, the Irish Examiner.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    Ireland: Taoiseach calls on social partners to decide on recovery plan

    The prospect of a special national recovery plan increased in early May 2009, when Ireland’s Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, wrote to the General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, David Begg, setting out the government’s latest position on issues such as job protection measures, pensions, pay and public sector change. Mr Cowen’s letter must be seen as a serious bid by the government to break the social partnership stalemate hindering progress on a recovery plan.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    Ireland: Recovery plan includes job and pension protection measures

    After six months of talks with the social partners, the Irish government has put forward a set of recovery plan proposals outlining specific measures in key areas like job protection and pensions, as well as a commitment to transform the public service. A new employment subsidy scheme will be funded through the European Commission. The recovery plan broadly suspends the private sector pay deal concluded under the 2008 ‘Transitional Agreement’.

  • 02 Jul 2009
    Ireland: Multinational companies and collective bargaining

    This study examines collective bargaining activity in multinational companies operating in Ireland as of February 2009. There is a higher level of collective bargaining coverage in multinationals than in the private sector overall. In recent years, however, there is increased evidence of so-called ‘double-breasting’ by multinationals in Ireland: older unionised sites are often unionised, whereas newer sites are increasingly non-union. Collective bargaining tends to be less prevalent in US multinationals than in multinationals of other nationalities.

  • 29 Jun 2009
    Ireland: Workers at Danish-owned pharmaceutical plant agree to restructuring plan

    Members of two trade unions at the long-established Leo Pharma plant in Dublin have voted to back a restructuring plan by the company. This decision ended a long-running dispute that had threatened the future of the pharmaceutical plant. The management at Leo Pharma decided to take immediate action to reduce its cost base in order to secure the plant’s future rather than wait for the company’s Danish headquarters to decide on whether to relocate production.

  • 15 Jun 2009
    Ireland: Few sectors likely to implement national pay deal

    The pharmaceutical, healthcare and chemical sectors are among those most likely to meet the terms of the current national pay agreement. However, the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation argues that the agreement should be severely curtailed, if not completely abandoned given the current economic climate. The trade unions are resisting any changes to the terms, unless they can secure some other concessions in the national talks.

  • 15 Jun 2009
    Ireland: Threat to job losses at Lufthansa Technik Airmotive averted

    In April 2009, workers at Lufthansa Technik Airmotive voted by a large majority to accept last minute proposals that could secure the future of a key part of the company’s Irish operation for the next 20 years, easing fears that the 465 Irish jobs could be lost to Germany. Since then, managers claim that workers are failing to honour this agreement, with work having to be turned away. They have warned that unless workers adopt new work practices, they will reissue protective notices.

  • 11 May 2009
    Ireland: Finance minister seeks to cap pay of top bankers

    Financial institutions whose deposits have been fully guaranteed by the Irish government have been asked to limit the pay of top-level executives to €500,000 a year. The call was made by Ireland’s Minister for Finance, thereby overruling a proposal by a government body set up to examine pay at the top level of the country’s main banks. The latter body issued a report in March 2009 recommending pay thresholds for top-level executives in Ireland’s banks.

  • 11 May 2009
    Ireland: Emergency budget includes public service pay review and early retirement

    In April 2009, the Irish government unveiled an emergency budget in response to the country’s deteriorating finances. It is the harshest budget facing citizens for many years and contains a number of ‘across the board’ tax rises. The budget includes a new early retirement scheme for civil servants aged over 50 years, a review of top public service pay to be undertaken by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration, and an Enterprise Stabilisation Fund to help protect jobs.

  • 11 May 2009
    Ireland: Swiss aircraft maintenance company to fold in Dublin

    Efforts are continuing to establish a new operation at the Dublin plant of the Swiss-owned aircraft maintenance company, SR Technics, which is to close with the loss of 1,100 jobs. Meanwhile, the workers have protested over the redundancy package on offer, as well as the €26 million deficit in the pension fund. However, trade unions acknowledge that wage costs were significantly out of line with those of competitors.

  • 11 May 2009
    Ireland: Strategy report proposes integrated approach to tackling current crisis

    A new strategy report by Ireland’s National Economic and Social Council (NESC) published in March 2009 calls for an integrated national response to the country’s current crises. NESC’s analysis suggests that Ireland is facing not one but five closely-related crises: a banking crisis; a fiscal crisis; an economic crisis of competitiveness and job losses; a social crisis of unemployment, income loss and indebtedness; and a crisis regarding its reputation.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Ireland: wage flexibility and collective bargaining

    VPS have increased in Ireland over the past decade or so, with some forms more common than others. Individual PRP is the most common form of VPS in Irish banking by some distance, followed by company-related performance pay, commission, and profit-sharing. In contrast, the most common form of VPS in the Irish manufacturing sector is output/production-related bonuses. Unions would like to see an increase in gainsharing, but employers are concerned about its implications, tending to prefer individual PRP and profit share schemes. In relation to this, individualised forms of VPS have gained some ground as union density and collective bargaining have declined.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Hospitals – Ireland

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the hospital sector in Ireland. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 14 Apr 2009
    Ireland: Labour inspectors recover over €3 million in workers’ arrears

    In 2008, labour inspectors from the newly established National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) carried out a total of 27,900 calls, interviews and inspections. As a result, NERA recovered arrears due to employees totalling over €3 million. Meanwhile, work is underway on implementing the Employment Law Compliance Bill, published in March 2008, which aims to improve compliance with employment legislation and would grant NERA a full statutory footing.

  • 02 Apr 2009
    Ireland: Controversy over pay increase awarded at state electricity firm

    The state-owned electricity company, the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), has paid the first phase of the current national pay agreement despite strong criticism from the media, and even from two senior government ministers. ESB defended its decision, stating that it was obliged to honour the national pay agreement. The company is, however, seeking a deferral of the second phase of the agreement. Meanwhile, ESB faces a major deficit in its pension fund.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    Ireland: wage formation

    This study examines wage formation in Ireland as of May 2008. The primary level of wage formation in unionised employments in Ireland is multi-employer centralised bargaining, although company-level bargaining also sometimes occurs around the terms set by national wage bargaining. It is evident that voluntarism and collective bargaining coverage has gradually been receding over the past decade or so, and wage setting is becoming subject to increased legal regulation – for instance, through a statutory national minimum wage. Furthermore, in the rising number of non-union employments, wages are primarily set by employers at company-level, where wage formation tends to be far more individualised than in unionised employments.

  • 09 Mar 2009
    The impact of the information and consultation directive on industrial relations — Ireland

    This study examines the impact of the EU information and consultation directive in Ireland as of July 2007. For the first time, having introduced new legislation in July 2006, Ireland has statutory provisions for employee information and consultation rights. Controversially, however, employees have to ‘trigger’ these rights themselves – they are not automatic or guaranteed – an issue that Irish trade unions are unhappy about. To date, very little has happened on the ground aside from a handful of information and consultation agreements.

  • 02 Mar 2009
    Ireland: National pay deal collapses in midst of economic crisis

    The social partners have failed to achieve a consensus on a range of issues aiming to halt Ireland’s economic slide following a dispute over the government’s new pension levy on all public servants. Meanwhile, the recently agreed national pay deal has been overtaken by the current recession, with the government introducing a public sector pay freeze and private sector employers seeking deferral of pay increases for at least a year.

  • 02 Mar 2009
    Ireland: Major newpaper and media group introduce pay freeze

    The large media company, Independent News and Media, has announced pay cuts for staff in Ireland earning over €40,000. Employees earning less than that amount have been asked to take a pay freeze. The company is seeking the individual consent of each worker, but has ruled out any third-party labour conciliation on the issue, in addition to withdrawing from the main Irish employer organisation. This move has caused some concern, not least among trade unions.

  • 23 Feb 2009
    Ireland: Dell to transfer 1,900 jobs to Poland

    The transfer of 1,900 manufacturing jobs from the Dell computer plant in the midwestern city of Limerick in Ireland, to an alternative manufacturing site in Poland, came as a shock to an Irish economy already suffering its third quarter of recession. At least another 1,500 jobs are likely to be lost in suppliers to Dell and in local services. The European Commission has contacted the Irish government about applying to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

  • 06 Feb 2009
    Ireland: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training

    This study outlines the state of play on continuous vocational training (CVT) in Ireland as of February 2008. In the past ten years or so, the Government and the social partners have paid increased attention to CVT, explicitly linking it to economic and social progress, and it is high on the agenda in tripartite centralized bargaining. However, company-level collective bargaining on CVT remains less well-developed.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    Ireland: Record majority of trade unions back national deal

    Delegates attending a special conference of unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions voted by a record majority in favour of the new national agreement in November 2008. The trade union representatives reached consensus on the so-called ‘Transitional Agreement’ under the ‘Towards 2016’ framework and were followed by the main employer organisation, the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation, which also voted in favour of the agreement.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    Ireland: Expert group to look into cutting public sector costs

    Faced with mounting pressure to tackle day-to-day running costs in the public sector and make substantial job cuts, the government has responded by establishing a special expert group to examine the scope for cost reductions. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development noted that productivity and customer-related improvements could be made in several areas. If voluntary redundancies are proposed, the scheme is likely to be over-subscribed.

  • 19 Jan 2009
    Ireland: Aer Lingus ‘insourcing’ deal includes ‘leave and return’ clause

    An agreement between Aer Lingus and the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union, brokered by the Labour Relations Commission in late November 2008, averted potential industrial action and may herald a new trend in industrial relations in Ireland. A key feature of the deal was an innovative ‘leave and return’ option, under which some 850 workers have chosen to take a lump sum and leave the company before returning on reduced pay and conditions.

Page last updated: 05 September, 2014