30 May 2014
The constitutional position is that the Irish Constitution guarantees citizens the right of association, including the right to form unions. The interpretation of this right includes the right not to associate (the right not join a particular, or any trade union). More importantly though, the Courts have not interpreted the Constitution as placing an obligation on an employer to recognise a trade union and have frequently made observations suggesting a positive constitutional right for employers not to recognise trade unions. Despite the constitutional position, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore announced last November that the government would begin the process of legislating to give employees the right to engage in collective bargaining, and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,Richard Bruton, has announced that we can expect to see legislation on this matter very soon. Commenting, Small Firms Association Chairman AJ Noonan said: “We cannot accept a trade union movement seeking to go backwards or yearning to make us like others who have different structures and economies, which are based on very high taxation of capital and of those we employ. “We must acknowledge, among ourselves, that we are different and that we need our own model.
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