News Courts

Tuesday 20 March 2018

More than 1000 hotels launch High Court challenge against decision on Joint Labour Committee

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Hoteliers have launched a High Court challenge against a government decision to retain a Joint Labour Committee to determine pay and conditions for those working in the sector outside of Dublin and Cork City.

They claimed today that the decision was/is unfair, unreasonable and unlawful, and meant employers would have to provide different terms and conditions to workers based on the geographic location of hotels and guesthouses.

The case arises out of the Minister for Enterprise, Richard Bruton’s, decision to retain a Joint Labour Committee to set wages, terms and conditions for workers in the hotel industry outside of both cities.

In proceedings against the minister the hoteliers want the decision to retain the JLC quashed.

The action was brought by the Irish Hotel Federation, representing more than 1000 hotels and guesthouses throughout Ireland, and William Neville & Sons Ltd, trading as the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

The hoteliers also seek various declarations including that the Minister's decision in relation to the JLC was an error in law and that it breaches constitutional justice.

They further seek a declaration that in making the decision the Minister acted outside of his powers.

Today permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex-parte basis (where only one side was present in court,) by Mr Justice Gerard Hogan.

The judge made the action returnable to a date in early May.

Barrister Siobhan Phelan, counsel for the hoteliers and guesthouse owners, told the court that the operation of JLC's was suspended in 2011 following a successful constitutional challenge by a group of employers in the catering sector.

The Government in 2012 introduced legislation under which a review of individual joint labour committees was to be established.

Earlier this year the Minister, on foot of a recommendation from the Labour Court which is now a notice party in the High Court proceedings, made orders retaining the JLC governing hotel workers outside of Dublin and Cork.

The Minister said it was appropriate to retain this particular JLC in order promote harmonious relations between workers and employers and would assist in the avoidance of industrial unrest.

Ms Phelan said it was the applicant's case that no intelligible or adequate reasons had been advanced as to why making the orders retaining the JLC in relation to hotels outside of Dublin and Cork would help avoid industrial unrest.

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