Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has challenged the European Union Commissioner for Justice to ensure that the right to collective bargaining is applied throughout all member states.
Speaking during a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe exchange of views with Commissioner Didier Reynders, Senator Gavan noted that the European Commission had recently presented a new strategy to strengthen the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the European Union.
Citing Article 28 of this Charter, Senator Gavan said:
“I come from a State where workers still do not have access in law to the fundamental human right of collective bargaining. Can you outline what plans the Commission has to ensure that all workers within the EU can apply this right in practice?
“Ireland remains one of the few countries within the EU where workers do not yet have this right.
“In response Commissioner Reynders confirmed that it is the intention of the Commission that Rights set out in the Charter are applied equally across all member states. He cited an annual report that will be produced each year and acknowledged that it may be necessary to engage with the Irish Government on the issue of collective bargaining.”
Senator Gavan gave the Commissioners comments a cautious welcome but expressed deep dis-satisfaction at the lack of movement on this issue.
“Successive Irish Governments have failed to legislate for the right to collective bargaining, the Commission’s promise to strengthen the Charter of Fundamental Rights is welcome but must be judged on concrete results rather than rhetoric.
“This right to collective bargaining is fundamental to building a decent society, and to ensure that workers have an effective voice in the workplace. It’s no co-incidence that the fall in trade union membership has been matched by an ever-growing divide between rich and poor both in Ireland and throughout Europe.”