Thursday, November 10, 2022

By Michelle Devane, PA

Mandatory trade union recognition is needed in the workplace, the Dáil has heard.

The People Before Profit/Solidarity TD Mick Barry accused Tánaiste Leo Varadkar of facilitating poor treatment of workers as he called for the Government to introduce mandatory trade union recognition.

It comes as hundreds of tech jobs are in jeopardy in what the Government is viewing as a downsizing of the lucrative sector.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told Mr Barry a report on collective bargaining has been released and he expects legislation will be enacted next year.

During Leaders’ Questions on Thursday Mr Barry said the realities behind the tech industry’s “ruthless billionaire owners have unfortunately for the workers concerns become increasingly clear in recent weeks in this country”.

He said more than 350 jobs are to be lost at Meta, some 250 jobs could be lost at Twitter, about 80 more at Stripe, and some 700 at Zendesk in addition to the “tens of thousands of jobs massacred in the name of profit internationally”.


“Tech workers now need to challenge the industry’s union-free practices,” the Cork North Central TD said.

“Tech workers need to organise.”

Mr Barry added: “Union-free practices of the tech industry and the billionaires that own it have been greatly facilitated by this Government, by the last government and perhaps by no other minister to the same degree as yourself.

“You’re Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment but, despite the fact that in nearly all European countries there is legislation in place, came as a result of pressure from below, which provides for mandatory trade union recognition, there is no such legislation in place here.

He questioned whether the legislative changes that are on the way will amount to full mandatory trade union recognition.

“Given the events of recent weeks, will you accept that governments have facilitated these union-free practices, have facilitated the poor treatment of workers seen in this country in recent weeks?

“And that now is the time for far-reaching change and for mandatory trade union recognition,” Mr Barry asked Mr Varadkar.

The Fine Gael leader said his main concern is the staff and family members of staff affected by the recent announcement of job losses in the tech sector.

“I can give those staff the reassurance that their legal rights will be protected, that there will be 30 days of information and consultation, that they will receive statutory redundancy payments, and in many cases, in fact, in almost all cases, will received enhanced redundancy package packages and extra packages,” Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.

“And I also want to reassure them, that the government will help them out as best we can, whether it’s with job search, to find new opportunities.”

The Tánaiste added that a report on collective bargaining was published in the last few weeks.

“It derives from an EU directive on minimum wages and on the need to increase collective bargaining coverage in the State,” he said.

“That’s published and we anticipate being in a position to respond to it and publish legislation next year.”

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