Fine Gael is working with business interests to ensure that new rights on collective bargaining for workers are not implemented, SIPTU Vice-President Patricia King has told the Congress Biennial conference in Belfast. Addressing the conference on Thursday (4th July), King said the Government was the only body that could deliver changes that would provide workers with collective bargaining rights but one part of the coalition was united with employers in preventing this from happening. She said the Irish Constitution recognised the rights of citizens to form a trade union but it did not oblige any employer to negotiate or engage with a union. “In fact Irish law actively protects the rights of an employer not to recognise a trade union and to run its business on a non-union basis. This is commonly referred to as the ‘voluntarist system’ ”, she added. King said the trade union movement believed that legislation should be enacted to provide for statutory recognition for the right to collectively bargain. She said workers who wanted to be represented by a union should have this right recognised by the employer. Excepted bodies, she said, should have the same governance rules as trade unions. Employer dominance should be outlawed. She said that he Programme for Government stated that there would be a review of legislation governing collective bargaining to ensure Ireland was compliant with recent European Court judgments. Despite this, King said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, continued to state that he wanted to develop the existing voluntarist system.