Friday 23 February 2018

Richard Bruton's skilful fudge keeps employers and unions happy

ALL sides claimed victory last night after the Government published new plans for collective bargaining; a reflection perhaps of just how confusing most of us find industrial relations.

Employers said cheerfully that nothing has changed, while the unions crowed that they had received a welcome boost. Both can claim victory because there are considerable doubts over how the new system will operate in practice.

The new rules on collective bargaining do not force employees to join unions or force employers to recognise unions, but they do give unions a calling card when they go looking for members in the private sector. We won't really know who has won until we see figures for union membership in a few years' time. Until now, there has been very little reason to sign up to a union if you worked outside the public sector – which probably helps to explain why only one in four private sector workers in Ireland bothers to join one.

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