CEO Update: Ibec National Council meeting with An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin
At the Ibec National Council on Friday, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin joined the meeting for an hour's discussion, teasing out solutions to the strategy and management of the Covid crisis and discussed the many other challenges we face as a society. Council members put forward their views and concerns on the impact of Covid on Ireland’s competitiveness, including all the immediate workforce issues this has raised, such as the ability to retain talent in Ireland, and to find a solution which can allow international business travel. There were many other issues discussed including the opportunity for Irish business to leverage the EU flagship Green Deal, the need for greater investment in public health, the fall-out from Brexit and the Shared Island agenda which was clearly a priority for An Taoiseach, including the opportunity arising from the PEACE Programme fund.
We discussed the new Biden Administration in the US, the positive re-engagement in multilateralism but also noting the trend towards a clear affinity emerging with the labour movement, evident by some senior appointments and statements. These latter sentiments have seen similar moves here in Ireland with the Tánaiste bringing forward proposals on statutory sick pay, right to remote working and ambitions for a review on introducing a living wage. Separately, the push for collective bargaining is ongoing given trends internationally, specifically from the EU on minimum wage setting mechanisms, legal challenges in the Supreme Court to existing wage determination structures, along with existing stated political ambitions among opposition parties for a constitutional referendum to establish collective bargaining rights.
With political, public and media discourse questioning the national suppression strategy and whether harsher restrictions are needed to bring Covid case numbers down faster, I believe our collective focus should now be on making Ireland’s release strategy a success. Given the stated prolonged suppression tactic announced by the Taoiseach, time is with us for the next step of this pandemic, but it is crucial for Ireland’s bounce back ability that we get the next phase right. We need to learn from our experience and move our thinking to focus on a vigilant system of sophisticated track and trace; rapid testing; and local measures which can allow normal conditions to prevail again. There are many things Government can begin to improve on for this next phase and business too must also use all its capabilities and talents to help figure out how we emerge fully from this crisis.
Communication is key to the months ahead both in terms of the virus strategy and the vaccination roll-out. We will continue to work with Government to shape these approaches on your behalf. I leave you with an interview with Professor Yaneer Bar Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute who discusses Covid management strategies in the latest episode of the Ibec Voices podcast.
Please get in touch if you have any comments or questions, it’s always good to hear from you.