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Judge puts six-month pause on electrician pay ruling

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'The judge said the implications of his constitutional finding went far beyond the individual electricians' SEO.' Stock Image

'The judge said the implications of his constitutional finding went far beyond the individual electricians' SEO.' Stock Image

'The judge said the implications of his constitutional finding went far beyond the individual electricians' SEO.' Stock Image

The High Court has put a six month stay on an order striking down a law setting minimum pay and conditions for certain sectors of industry.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons ruled last month that the Minister for State for Business Enterprise and Innovation had acted outside his powers in purporting to make a sectoral employment order (SEO) for electricians in June last year.

He also found the parent legislation governing such orders, Chapter 3 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, was invalid by reference to Article 15.2.1 of the Constitution [power of Oireachtas to make laws].

The case was brought by members of the National Electrical Contractors of Ireland which claimed the SEO breached their rights and was unconstitutional.

It was brought against the Labour Court, the Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation, Ireland and the Attorney General, who opposed the challenge.

Further submissions were made by the parties following the judgment and on Friday Mr Justice Simons made formal orders in the case.

The court was told the State intends to seek a "leapfrog" appeal to the Supreme Court.

The judge said the implications of his constitutional finding went far beyond the individual electricians' SEO.

Were this finding to be upheld on appeal, it would cast doubt on the validity of any SEO under the relevant chapter of the 2015 Act, he said.

However, he said, crucially even this finding would not preclude the putting in place of primary legislation imposing minimum rates of pay and remuneration in any particular sector.

Nor would it preclude the regulation of such matters by way of secondary legislation, provided always that the requisite principles and policies were stated in primary legislation, he said.

The judge said that last month's decision was concerned solely with identifying which branch of government, was entitled to regulate the terms and conditions of employment.

The judge emphasised that his judgement in no way suggests that the imposition of minimum rates of pay in any particular sector is "per se unconstitutional" or that there was anything to suggest the rates in the electricians' sector are overly generous.

Irish Independent