Competitiveness must be key in review of collective bargaining

March 30, 2021

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has said that internationally, we are observing a strong focus on the creation of longer-term value for stakeholders as well as shareholders by business. The pandemic has given renewed energy to the conversation on environmental, social and governance polices of business and has propelled the shift toward stakeholder capitalism – where businesses create sustainable value for all stakeholders, customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.

The challenges facing our society, business and the workforce require consensus, resources and mechanisms to find solutions, and this includes the need for structured government engagement with employers and employees.

Mr McCoy said: “The Tánaiste, in his role as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, has asked the Labour Employer Economic Forum to set up a study to review collective bargaining and the industrial relations landscape in Ireland.  Our voluntarist system, together with an extensive body of employment rights legislation has provided a strong foundation for investment and growth. 

“It is right that we review the effectiveness of our structures and would emphasise that any review must be consistent with Irish business competitiveness, fairness and dynamism in our labour market. That it will be a challenge is undoubted, but must be seen under the spectrum of stakeholder engagement and our enhanced social dialogue mechanisms.” 

Ireland’s voluntarist status is significant as we continue to see legislation developed at European level, which draws heavily on the European tradition of collective bargaining arrangements. We need to consider how are employees best represented in a contemporary context recognising that Ireland’s industrial relations model is notably different to the established social dialogue and social insurance models within Europe.